Esteban Ocon’s collision with Max Verstappen while trying to unlap himself was “wholly unacceptable”, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
Suggestions that Esteban Ocon collided with Max Verstappen on purpose at the Brazilian Grand Prix have been labelled as “conspiracy theories” by Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
Max Verstappen will perform two days of “public service” as punishment for his post-race altercation with rival driver Esteban Ocon following Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ocon was trying to unlap himself from Verstappen when the incident occurred and his positioning at the apex of Turn 2 led to a collision between the two drivers, costing Verstappen the lead of the race.
Whiting does not sit on the stewards’ panel that gave Ocon a stop-go penalty for the collision, but, in his role as race director, he can refer incidents to the panel for judgement. He is also a key figure in defining the sporting regulations that dictate what is acceptable on track and regularly speaks with teams and drivers about such matters at race weekends.
Whiting confirmed Ocon was within his rights to attempt to unlap himself, but said it was unacceptable for a lapped car to fight for position with the race leader.
“[Drivers unlapping themselves] has happened many times in the past, but of course you expect it to be done safely,” Whiting said. “More to the point, it should be done cleanly and absolutely without fighting — you shouldn’t be fighting to get past.
“If he’s got the pace then normally one would expect Red Bull to tell Max ‘Ocon has got the pace, let him through’, or that sort of thing. But it seemed he just went for it.
“It was just a bit unfortunate that he decided to fight for it, which was wholly unacceptable.”
Whiting said the fact that the collision was with the race leader did not have a bearing on the severity of the penalty.
“I don’t think it makes any difference it was the leader,” he said. “It makes it worse in a lot of people’s eyes but as far as the stewards are concerned, that doesn’t matter.”