FIA release statement on ‘very dangerous situation’ in Baku pit lane

Henry Valantine
Esteban Ocon leaves the pit box. FIA F1 Baku April 2023.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon leaves his pit box after stopping. Azerbaijan April 2023.

The FIA have acknowledged a “very dangerous situation” occurred in the pit lane in Azerbaijan on Sunday, when Esteban Ocon stopped late on in the race – and want “immediate steps” to be taken to stop such a moment happening again.

Ocon had been on the hard tyres since the beginning of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, on a strategy which looked to take him as far as possible into the race before having to take his mandatory pit stop, in the hope of a late Safety Car or yellow flag seeing him able to stop and lose less time compared to his rivals.

This did not fall in his favour, leaving him forced to pit at the last possible moment, but at this point, parc ferme was already being set up for the podium celebrations for the top three, with the final lap of the race still ongoing.

This in turn led to what Ocon called a “scary moment” as he came into the pit lane and slammed on the brakes to get to the speed limit, but several photographers and personnel were in the fast lane at the time.

The FIA summoned those responsible for parc ferme to the stewards after the race to discuss the incident, and while the governing body acknowledged that setting up for the post-race celebrations in the closing stages was “not unusual”, the fact Ocon had not yet pitted created a “very dangerous situation” in the pit lane.

As a result, they have called for “immediate steps” to be taken by those responsible to avoid a repeat of such an incident.

Giving their verdict, the FIA stewards wrote: “The Stewards heard from the FIA representatives and determined that the relevant representatives took steps to set up the parc ferme area and also permitted media and other personnel to gather in the start of the pit lane and the pit wall during the last lap of the race, while the pit lane was open and before the final pit stop of OCO (Car 31).

“We noted that it was not unusual for the representatives to allow such persons into the pit lane just before the end of the race, in the usual course of preparation for parc ferme and the Podium ceremony. recommends

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“However, in this case, there was one driver that had to pit in the last lap and this created a very dangerous situation for those that were in the pit lane at the time.

“We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today.

“We stressed that the requirements of ensuring a safe and orderly event are paramount. This was acknowledged by the FIA team.

“We walked through the relevant procedures and protocol with the FIA representatives in detail and required them to take immediate steps to reconsider these procedures and protocols with the relevant stakeholders (including FOM, the teams and the FIA) to ensure that this situation does not occur again.

“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event.”