2018-05-29 15:19:45 UTC
FIA may be taking closer look at race-day relationships between teams
MAY 28, 2018
Force India driver Esteban Ocon suggested Sunday that there is an
unwritten rule that he won’t hold up any Mercedes factory driver during
a Grand Prix event – the Frenchman being part of the Mercedes young
When Lewis Hamilton pitted in an attempt to undercut and pass
second-place Sebastian Vettel during the Monaco Grand Prix, he came out
right on the tail of Ocon but, despite struggling to get anywhere near
to the back of Vettel’s Ferrari during the first stint of the race, it
looked suspiciously easy for the championship leader to pass Ocon -- a
member of Mercedes' young driver program.
Granted, Ocon was on much older tires, and the Mercedes is a much
stronger car, but Hamilton was able to glide past unchallenged. Such was
the ease that even the television commentators suggested potential foul
play at the time.
“Maybe,” said Ocon when asked whether there was an unwritten rule. “I’m
a Mercedes driver, you should ask the boss. It was pointless to fight
with him, especially as he had new tires.”
Ocon finished sixth in the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, and Hamilton finished
on the podium in third.
Belgium newspaper La Dernière Heure asked Mercedes boss Toto Wolff about
the situation, to which Wolf replied “Yes, because that’s the way it is.”
If there has indeed been foul play and Mercedes did order Ocon to move
out of the way, the FIA may decide to issue some pretty stern
punishments to the German manufacturer. The only similar incident to
this, which if proven to be true is tantamount to fixing the race
result, is in Singapore in 2008 when Renault ordered Nelson Piquet Jr.
to deliberately crash his car to benefit and ultimately gift a victory
to teammate Fernando Alonso.
While not as extreme in this instance, the 2008 saw Renault handed a
suspended disqualification from the championship while those who made
the call were initially banned from working in the sport.
By Sam Hall