F1 world in disbelief over 'terrifying' incident at Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sergip Perez won a largely uneventful race marred by scary scenes involving Esteban Ocon.

Sergio Perez, pictured here after winning the Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix, which was marred by scary scenes involving Esteban Ocon.
Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix, which was marred by scary scenes involving Esteban Ocon. Image: Getty/F1

F1 fans and commentators have expressed their disbelief and anger after organisers allowed people onto the track before the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday. Sergio Perez beat teammate and championship leader Max Verstappen to win the race in Baku, continuing Red Bull's domination of the season.

However the race was marred by a 'terrifying' moment towards the end when Esteban Ocon came into the pits and was confronted by the scary sight of people standing in front of him. The French driver waited until the very end of the race to complete his mandatory pit-stop, but officials appeared to think none of the drivers would be pitting so late.

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A group of staff and photographers had been let onto the track to set up the post-race ceremony, resulting in terrifying scenes when Ocon came into the pits. No one was injured in the farcical scenes, but Ocon was left fuming.

“I’m arriving at 300km/h, breaking very late, and I see the barriers, I see the people around. This is crazy,” he said.

“Could have been a big, big one today. This is definitely something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we don’t want to see.

“Scary moment at the end there in the pit-lane. Glad no one was hurt but we must ensure things like that don’t happen again."

The FIA later announced that track representatives had been summoned to the stewards in the aftermath of the incident, and acknowledged that a “very dangerous situation” had occurred. The stewards wrote in their verdict: “We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today.

“We stressed that the requirements of ensuring a safe and orderly event are paramount. This was acknowledged by the FIA team. The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event.”

Sky Sports' pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz said at the time: “This is an absolute shambles. We could see it coming, Alpine could see it coming. What is going on there?”

Commentator David Croft said: “That is a total and utter shambles of organisation. Someone should have known. There will be a lot of questions asked about what happened right at the end.

“People coming out to celebrate on the pit wall, which is not allowed now in the regulations, and photographers waiting for the podium celebrations while Esteban Ocon still had to make his pit stop in this race. Somebody should have checked. They didn’t and luckily no one was hurt.”

Karun Chandhok added that it was “a lucky escape”. He said: “That was absolute madness to allow all those people into the pit lane when there was live racing going on."

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen continue Red Bull dominance

Perez made the most of his good fortune to take the sixth victory of his career on Sunday and become the first driver to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for a second time. The Mexican driver was helped by a safety car period that fell in his favour after Verstappen had pitted.

Perez is now six points behind Verstappen, with both drivers on two wins each after four rounds. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who started on pole position for the third year in a row, finished third for his team's first podium appearance of the year.

Aussie driver Oscar Piastri finished 11th in his McLaren, just missing out on the points. It was a remarkable effort considering he suffered from a stomach bug all weekend that resulted in him losing three kilograms.

Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, pictured here on the podium after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen on the podium after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. (Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images)

with agencies

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