Another controversy during the Formula One Monaco GP has come to light since the release of the full radio transcripts were revealed. TV viewers only hear selected pit to radio messages selected by the FOM TV director and so after the event the full detail of who said what can be read.
During the first phase of the race, Lewis Hamilton who had pitted for new intermediate tyres came across Alpine’s Esteban Ocon who was struggling on his original full wets. Hamilton tried a risky move down there inside into Saint Devote – the first corner – and Ocon closed the door.
There was minimal contact and both drivers were able to continue. Hamilton did have some minor damage to his front wing end plate though the effect would have been negligible on such a slow circuit and in the wet.
The incident was noted by race control and the stewards and following a short investigation they awarded Ocon a 5 second penalty.
Ocon crossed the finish line in ninth place but his time penalty saw him lose the points and be classified P12.
When Alpine informed him of the stewards decision here was his response over pit radio which was not aired at the time.
“It’s a joke, guys. It is a joke,” shouted Esteban. “They can’t take the result away like that. This is favouritism! He crashed into me, and then I get the penalty. What is this? We can’t see in the mirrors here?”
Clearly the Alpine driver believed Hamilton had been treated differently than if any other driver had been involved in the same incident.
Ocon was asked about the incident in the media pen following the race. He appeared to suggest that the explanation he had been given was because of a sporting rule change this year.
“They [the stewards] said that if it was last year, it would have been a racing incident – this year it is not a racing incident. Apparently [the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association] agreed that as soon as there is a front wing next to a tyre, there should be space. But I don’t remember when this has been agreed.”
Meanwhile after the final pit stops, Hamilton found himself stuck behind Fernando Alonso who was driving within himself to preserve his medium compound tyres. Hamilton complained to Mercedes that “Alonso is backing me up”.
Then Alpine learned of Ocon’s penalty and instructed Alonso to speed up because Esteban was stuck behind Hamilton. The hope was if Fernando pushed on his team mate may be able to create a gap of more than 5 seconds to the cars behind.\
Alonso disappeared down the road and ironically Hamilton couldn’t then keep pace with him.
Yet unfortunately Ocon could not create the necessary gap to nullify the stewards penalty.
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