Although Nico Hulkenberg wants to blame Esteban Ocon for their Qatar Sprint race crash, he accepts the Frenchman was unsighted but his team boss Guenther Steiner isn’t as forgiving.
Chasing down Ocon, whose soft tyres were beginning to wear in Saturday night’s Sprint race at the Lusail circuit, Hulkenberg tried to make a move on the Alpine driver only for Sergio Perez to get involved.
And as everyone in Formula 1 knows, three into one never goes.
‘None of it was his fault, but between these two, what can you do?’
Ocon made contact with Hulkenberg, who wasn’t able to move any further to the right to give him more room as Perez was there, with the Alpine driver then crashing into Perez.
While Ocon and Perez retired in the gravel, Hulkenberg limped back to the pits but with front wing damage to his Haas, it wasn’t worth fitting a new one and sending him back out.
“It’s really bad for us because it was a day where we could have taken something,” he said as per F1-Insider. “I’m very disappointed about that because it was an opportunity.”
Explaining the accident from his point of view, the Haas driver said: “Ocon started to have problems and so I was able to attack him. But Perez also came from behind and was so fast.
“That meant he was suddenly in the middle of things, but I saw him really late because I was focused on Ocon. And he, in turn, probably didn’t know or couldn’t see that I also had a car next to me and therefore there was no more space..
“It put me in a sandwich and yes, with three cars so tight in a corner, that was too close. I’d like to blame Esteban, but I don’t think he can know that Sergio is on the right.
“Very stupid and unfortunate racing situation.”
However, his team boss Guenther Steiner wasn’t as understanding.
“Nico had a very good day until he ended up in a sandwich between two desperate boys. None of it was his fault, but between these two, what can you do?,” said the Italian. “Luck wasn’t on our side.”
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon share their thoughts
Although Perez was notably frustrated by the collision, the Mexican driver threw his hands up into the air, he accepted it was just one of those things.
“It was the wrong place, wrong time,” Perez said. “The race didn’t start particularly well because we were on the medium tyre, it was very low grip to start the race on that tyre.
“We were recovering, we were making good progress, but unfortunately as I was making more progress we had this contact and I paid the price, I had massive damage on my car. It’s been a very frustrating day.”
Ocon agrees, the Alpine driver calling it a racing incident.
“We have that incident obviously when we were three abreast. I got a touch on the rear right, the next thing I see when I opened the eyes is I’m in the gravel,” said the Frenchman.
“It is clear that I saw Nico, I knew he was there, but it is impossible for me at that point to see Sergio on the right side. Three abreast is not a good idea on that corner unfortunately, so I think it’s a racing incident.”