(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 of the Las Vegas Grand Prix as a “joke” and “crazy”.
Max Verstappen took revenge on Esteban Ocon in Q1
Verstappen and Ocon were part of a group of drivers massed at the end of the long straight as they prepared to run the final Q1 laps of the session.
To get a clear lap while staying under the maximum lap time, Ocon overtook Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou and his teammate Pierre Gasly before also overtaking Verstappen just before the start of the lap.
“What the hell are Alpine doing?” an irritated Verstappen asked over the radio, then reacted by coming alongside Ocon at the first corner and pushing him to the outside before the Frenchman passed again as the Red Bull driver cut off the his tour.
The crash ruined Ocon’s first sector leaving him 17th at the end of the session, while Gasly then demonstrated the A523’s potential by qualifying fifth.
When he found out he had failed to get into Q2, Ocon told his team: “This is a joke, honestly, Verstappen drove like crazy into the first corner!”
Ocon: I would have easily got into Q2
Ocon and Verstappen have a shared past, as they raced against each other in Formula 3 in 2014 and also clashed in Formula 1 at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ocon’s frustrating qualifying comes a day after his chassis was badly damaged when he ran over the water valve cover, which had already been hit by Carlos Sainz, in FT1.
When requested by Motorsport-Total.com After his bad luck in a city famous for gambling, Ocon makes it clear that he isn’t happy with how his session went.
“It’s not just Vegas, it’s the whole season. I feel like I’m out of luck the whole time,” he says angrily. “So no matter what there is, it always happens to us, whether it’s accidents, whether it’s problems, whatever it is, it always harms us.”
“On the first lap I found traffic in the worst sector, 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 Verstappen’s accident and explains: “I lost about seven and a half tenths in Turn 1 and in the end I almost managed to improve.”
“We would have been able to get through easily”, he is convinced and explains: “I think the pace of the car is promising. And we hope to be able to use it in tomorrow’s race to make up ground.”
Because Verstappen ruined Ocon’s lap
When asked about Verstappen’s accident, he stressed that he tried to stick to the FIA’s delta time. “The difference between me and him 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 underlined: “He has a good pace, so he can afford not to do the second lap. But we didn’t respect the delta.”
“So we had to go for a ride, there were more of us on the Delta, there were three cars in a row. We had to drive otherwise we would have stayed [über der maximalen Rundenzeit] and already in the last race I was punished for something like that,” he explains.
“So it couldn’t happen again. I had no choice, I had to drive”, he clarifies and underlines: “The difference between me and Max is that he is third and I am 17th…”
Verstappen himself does not believe that the accident was his fault Viaplay explains the Dutchman: “Everyone was leaving a gap and suddenly he ends up between two cars like an idiot.”
“He almost hit me in turn 14,” he reports, adding: “So I leave 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 left me, I’ll leave you in Turn 1.’ And it worked well,” admits Verstappen. In other words, he intentionally ruined Ocon’s round out of revenge.