F1: Ocon labels Verstappen ‘violent and unprofessional’
By Chris Medland | RACER magazine and RACER.com F1 correspondent
Esteban Ocon believes he was not at fault for the collision with Max Verstappen in the Brazilian Grand Prix and says the Red Bull driver was “violent and unprofessional” after the race.
Verstappen was leading the race having climbed through the field from fifth on the grid when Ocon attempted to unlap himself at Turn 1. The pair went side-by-side through Turn 2 and collided, both spinning and relegating Verstappen to second place, where he would finish. Ocon was given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident, and Verstappen then confronted him as they went to get weighed, pushing the Frenchman repeatedly.
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“Violent and unprofessional behavior,” Ocon said. “The FIA had to stop him. If not, he would probably have punched me, but that probably would have been a good thing as everyone would have seen it. That’s not the way you should behave as a professional driver.
“Just after the race, there is emotion, I can understand that, but you can speak — you don’t need to come with hands basically.
“The fights have to happen on-track. We are sportsmen — we represent a lot of young kids, a lot of people in front of TV. If that was filmed today, it would be massive news. For me that is not right.
“I know him. There is no way to talk.”
As for the incident that provoked the altercation, Ocon believes he was well within his rights to attempt to unlap himself against Verstappen and says the Red Bull driver didn’t give him room as he fought back.
“The situation was that I came out of the box, I had fresh tires, the first lap I had a lot of pace, on the second lap the team came to me and said, ‘Yeah you can unlap yourself if you want, go by Max.’
“So I went by Max — I had the pace for it, like I did on Fernando (Alonso), on many other drivers in this race as well. Once I’m side-by-side with him, I can’t disappear, and then we have the contact. There’s no rule that says you are not allowed to unlap yourself. I’ll have to see the image first and see if it was my fault or not, but at the moment, I don’t feel like it was.”
Both Ocon and Verstappen were summoned to the stewards as a result of their exchange after the race.
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