Esteban Ocon has received a reprimand and Alpine have been fined after the Frenchman obstructed Sebastian Vettel during Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying.
Vettel had complained of being held up by the Frenchman as he came towards the end of a flying lap, with the stewards determining the Alpine team had not given their driver fair warning of the approaching Vettel through Turns 15 and 16.
Ultimately Vettel was able to clear Q1, but the stewards issued a reprimand to Ocon with heavier focus on the Alpine team, who have been fined €10,000.
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) December 11, 2021
“The stewards heard from the driver of Car 31 (Esteban Ocon), the driver of Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and team representatives, and examined video, team radio and telemetry evidence,” the stewards’ report read.
“In evidence, the driver of Car 31 stated he was given a warning that Car 5 was 2.5 seconds behind between Turns 15 and 16. However, due to the track layout he had no visibility of Car 5 until Turn 16 and hence had no time to react.
“This incident shared many common elements with the other incidents of alleged impeding from qualification. Most cars did very slow warm-up laps, resulting in significantly large differences in speed to cars on fast laps.
“This, combined with the desire of all drivers to establish a gap to the car in front when starting a fast lap, results in situations where a car may have an ‘impact’ on another car doing a fast
lap. However, the stewards consider this is different to ‘impeding’ and in particular, ‘unnecessarily impeding’.
“It is the stewards’ determination that the driver of Car 31 could have done little if anything to avoid impacting Car 5’s lap, but note the team could have done more to have given him earlier warning of Car 5’s approach.
“Although normally the lack of radio communication does not absolve a driver from the responsibility to avoid unnecessarily impeding, in this case we consider this a justification for mitigation. Therefore, no grid penalty is imposed.”
It was not the end of the drama for Vettel though, as he was investigated himself for getting in the way of Pierre Gasly, although no further action was taken.
The same was also true of Daniel Ricciardo, who was cleared after being investigated for allegedly impeding Fernando Alonso.