Ocon crash sparks more talks on traffic woes

Date published: August 18 2020

Renault

F1 drivers are to revisit the subject of on-track traffic issues after Esteban Ocon’s crash in FP3 at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ocon spun his Renault into the wall on Saturday morning after closing up quickly behind Kevin Magnussen, who was on a slow lap. Unsure how to avoid the Haas, Ocon steered right and careered off the circuit between Turns 3 and 4.

Magnussen had been on a slow lap in a bid to cool his tyres, while Ocon was trying to get his rubber up to temperature after exiting the pits, explaining the speed difference.

Both of the drivers and the stewards put it down to an “unfortunate” accident, with no action being taken.

After qualifying later the same day, Magnussen claimed some of his rivals had broken a “gentlemen’s agreement” not to hold each other up while preparing their tyres for ‘hot’ laps. The Dane said he had been affected and the issue had contributed to him failing to reach Q2.

Magnussen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean, director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said the matter would be discussed at the next drivers’ briefing, admitting there were safety concerns about the closing speed difference between cars on ‘push’ laps and ‘cool’ laps.

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Kevin Magnussen PA

“It was raised at the drivers’ briefing at Silverstone. I think it will be raised again,” said Grosjean, quoted by Motorsport.

“We can go faster, but we are just not going to do another fast lap.

“Yes, it’s a safety matter. I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t feel confident at all driving so slow when cars are coming so fast.

“There are places where the mirrors, they are only good enough. The radio communication, we try to do our best.

“But when the delta speed is about 1min 15sec per lap as it was at Silverstone, and having 45 seconds here (Spain), it’s just too big.”

Ocon added: “It’s not really acceptable to have a queue of cars. If there is someone coming up at race speed, it can be dangerous. This has been the trend.

“In hot conditions, we are a minute slower on a cool-down lap or to prep the lap. It’s very, very slow.

“We would need to limit (the minimum time). To start my last lap, I was basically clutch in and I stopped. I was literally doing zero kph in the middle of the line. It’s very, very extreme nowadays.”

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