A “shambolic” pitlane incident on the last lap of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix could have been a “major, major incident”, according to the driver involved.
The FIA were found to be in breach of their own sporting code after photographers and other FIA personnel were forced to leap out of the way as Esteban Ocon’s Alpine barreled into pitlane to make a last-lap pitstop.
They were in the pitlane to prepare for the post-race parc ferme and podium presentations.
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Sky Sports F1 pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz was live on air as the incident happened, and said the organisers should have known Ocon still needed to pit.
“People in the pitlane don’t realise Esteban Ocon still needs to make a pitstop – there are people all around this pitlane,” he said just before the incident.
“Is Esteban Ocon not going to make his stop? I don’t think he can now because they’ve put out the parc ferme barriers.
“I can see [photographers coming into the pitlane], Oh my goodness now Alpine are coming into the pitlane, they think they’re going to make a pitstop!
“There are people all over the pitlane! Oh what is this about?,” he said as Ocon pitted.
“This is a shambles. An absolute shambles. We could see it coming. Alpine could see it coming – what is going on down there?”
Ocon’s shocking onboard vision
Lead commentator David Croft described the scenes as “a total and utter shambles of organisation”.
Unsurprisingly, Ocon said the incident “scared” him.
“I am arriving at 300kph, braking in the last moment, crossing the line and I had to brake and avoid the people,” he said after the race.
“It could have been a major, major incident and it is something we don’t want to see. It scared me, I am in control of the car, but I would not have liked to be the one in the pit lane.”
Following the race, stewards summonsed the FIA staff who oversaw the pitlane – which rarely involves anyone outside drivers and team personnel.
“We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today,” the stewards said.
“We stressed that the requirements of ensuring a safe and orderly event are paramount. This was acknowledged by the FIA team.”
The FIA has also confirmed they will conduct their own review into the incident.
It’s the second time in as many events the end of the race has been marred by incidents involving people where they shouldn’t be.
Fans at last month’s Australian Grand Prix climbed debris fences and entered the track before they were cleared to do so.
The Baku race was won by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, followed by teammate Max Verstappen as the team put on a dominant 1-2.
The next race is in Miami on May 6-8.
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