(Motorsport-Total.com) – Alpine driver Esteban Ocon describes the incident with Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen at the end of the first qualifying segment for the Las Vegas Grand Prix as a “joke” and “madness.”
Max Verstappen took revenge on Esteban Ocon in Q1
Verstappen and Ocon were among a group of drivers huddled together at the end of the long straight as they prepared to do their final laps of the Q1 session.
To get a clear lap and stay under the maximum lap time, Ocon passed Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou and his own teammate Pierre Gasly before also passing Verstappen just before the start of the lap.
“What the hell is the Alpine doing?” an annoyed Verstappen asked over the radio, then retaliated by coming in alongside Ocon in the first corner and pushing him out before the Frenchman passed again as the Red Bull driver aborted his lap. .
The incident ruined Ocon’s first sector and left him 17th at the end of the session, while Gasly later demonstrated the potential of the A523 by qualifying fifth.
When he found out he had failed to progress to Q2, Ocon told his team: “This is a joke, honestly, Verstappen drove like crazy in the first corner!”
Ocon: he would have easily reached Q2
Ocon and Verstappen have a common past, having raced against each other in Formula 3 in 2014 and also facing off in Formula 1 at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ocon’s frustrating qualification comes a day after his chassis suffered serious damage when he ran over the water valve cover, which had already been hit by Carlos Sainz, in FT1.
When asked about Motorsport-Total.com After his bad luck in a city famous for its gambling, Ocon makes it clear that he is not happy with how his session went.
“It’s not just Vegas, it’s the whole season. It seems like I haven’t been lucky all the time,” he says angrily. “So no matter what there is, it always happens to us, whether it’s incidents, problems, whatever it is, it always hurts us.”
“On the first lap I had traffic in the worst section, in the last corner and in turns 7 to 9. So I lost some time on that first lap.”
“And on the last lap we saw what happened,” he says of the Verstappen incident and explains: “I lost a good seven and a half tenths in Turn 1 and in the end I was almost able to improve.”
“We would have passed easily,” he believes and explains: “I think the car’s pace looks promising. And I hope we can take advantage of it in tomorrow’s race to catch up with the others again.”
Why Verstappen ruined Ocon’s lap
When asked about the Verstappen incident, he emphasized that he tried to respect the FIA’s delta time. “The difference between him and me is that I had to do this lap because I had traffic on the first lap,” he explains.
“And if I don’t do the second lap, I’m out,” said Ocon, who stressed: “He has a good pace, so he can afford not to do his second lap. But we don’t respect the delta.” “.
“So we had to take a turn, we were in the Delta plus, there were three cars in a row. We had to drive or we would be left [über der maximalen Rundenzeit] And they already punished me for something like that in the last race,” he explains.
“So I couldn’t pass again. I had no other option, I had to drive,” he clarifies and underlines: “The difference between Max and me is that he is third and I am 17th…”
Verstappen himself does not consider the incident to be his fault. viaplay explains the Dutchman: “Everyone was leaving a gap and suddenly he ends up like an idiot between two cars.”
“He almost rear-ended me at Turn 14,” he reports, adding, “So I put a gap between me and the others, and then he tries to pass me in the last corner and then starts his lap.”
“I thought, ‘If you let me, I’ll leave you at Turn 1 too.’ And it worked out well,” Verstappen admits. In other words, he intentionally ruined Ocon’s round out of revenge.