Esteban Ocon predicts more ’silly’ grid placement penalties to come

Sam Cooper
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon serves a penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir, March 2023.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon serves a penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir, March 2023.

Esteban Ocon has predicted there will be more “silly” penalties handed out for failing to start in the grid box, just as he did in Bahrain.

The Frenchman’s season began in the worst possible way when he managed to acquire three separate penalties all within a short timeframe at the opening race in Bahrain.

The first came as a result of Ocon failing to start within the grid box as the FIA clamps down on that particular infringement.

Ocon was found to have been in the incorrect position and as such was handed a five-second penalty but even after three races, he is not the only one to have fallen foul of this. His former team-mate Fernando Alonso received the exact same penalty at the following race in Saudi Arabia.

The FIA attempted to rectify this by widening the boxes but Ocon belives with the cars being built that the way they are, there will be plenty of opportunity for drivers to look “silly” in th future.

“There’s going to be a lot more cars this year that are going to be penalised this year, that’s for sure,” Ocon said, as per Motorsport.com.

“It just looks silly that we get penalised for these things because it can seem so simple, but it’s because we can’t see anything from where we are sitting.

“We’ve worked a lot with my team to try and lower me in the car, to have a lower position. We obviously were out of the rules, so we deserve the penalty.”

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While starting marginally outside of the box provides minimal advantage, it can be a huge disadvantage should a driver receive a penalty. Ocon said widening the boxes would help and was a sign it was “going in the right direction.”

“It was already 20 centimetres wider this year compared to last year. And now they are going 20 more so obviously it’s going in the right direction,” he said.

“It’s an advantage when you are too far forward, and we’ve always been penalised if we were too far forward.

“Before we were not penalised if we were a bit more to the left or to the right, because it’s normally not an advantage. Now that rule has changed and obviously it’s the same for everyone, so that’s what we need to look out for and having it bigger should help.”