Esteban Ocon explains reason Lewis Hamilton was nearly hit in Imola pitlane incident
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Esteban Ocon has claimed a piece of AlphaTauri tubing was to blame for almost hitting Lewis Hamilton in the Imola pits. The 25-year-old was released into the path of the seven-time champion and came within inches from colliding into the side of the Mercedes.
The Frenchman was instantly investigated by the stewards and later received a five-second penalty for an unsafe release. This dropped him from 11th to 14th at the chequered flag and helped promote Hamilton to 13th overall.
However, Ocon has warned there would have still been space for the Mercedes had it not been for a piece of apparatus blocking his way. He claimed a ‘tube’ from the garage in front meant he had to go more to the left than he would have liked, which ultimately pushed him into Hamilton’s path.
Ocon said: “It’s a little bit frustrating, for sure. We finished P11 and of course with that unsafe release, five seconds, that hurt our position.
“But I think what hurt is really the tube that was left quite almost at the fast lane. I had to squeeze Lewis because of that tube that was hanging. I need to re-watch the images, but that’s my initial feeling without re-watching the images.
“Otherwise, I think there would have been space for both of us. We didn’t touch – that was all okay. I was aware when I had to avoid the tube, and then I saw he was there.
“It’s tight, but of course it’s not safe to be that close to another car, that’s clear. So I think in the end I think what made it look worse is the tube.” Ocon appeared to lose control of his car’s rear end as he slid out of his pit box on slicks.
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The Alpine’s rear left tyre came dangerously close to striking Hamilton, who was delayed in his own stop due to a stuck wheel nut. Alpine had a horror weekend despite some optimism they could challenge for points.
Fernando Alonso was battling in the midfield early on but was forced to retire after his sidepod blew off due to contact with Haas star Mick Schumacher on the opening lap. Ocon added: “I think it was a missed opportunity for us this weekend. I think it’s still possible to put both cars into the top 10 once we both have this performance upgrade.”
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