FIA European Formula 3 Championship leader Esteban Ocon has come under some criticism from his fellow drivers after an incident packed weekend in Pau. Both Felix Rosenqvist and Max Verstappen accused the Frenchman for causing the incidents that would eliminate both drivers in race two and three respectively, while Ocon would continue on in both races to finish on the podium.
The first incident happened in the wet race two on Sunday morning, when Mücke Motorsport driver Rosenqvist sustained suspension damage when the Swede attempted to pass Ocon on the outside of the Pont Oscar hairpin. He thought a change in the regulations might be in order but thought more common sense from Ocon could have been exercised.
“In the previous corner he braked really early because he had a problem,” said Rosenqvist. “I was up on him as we went up the hill, and he was all the way to the left and then braked super-early. I braked earlier than the lap before, went for the right, and when I had my left-front [alongside] his right-rear he moved to the right and gave me no more space.
“It’s a bit strange with the regulations that you can do something like this – perhaps we need to use common sense a bit more, because I respect that it’s a difficult thing to judge. The rule is that if you are like that [partially alongside] before you brake you can’t do it, but if you are further along the line [and into the braking process] you’re allowed to turn someone into the wall. It’s unacceptable, but it is what it is.”
In response, Prema Powerteam driver Ocon said of the incident: “I turned in a bit too early to the last corner, jumped a kerb and had a bit of damage to my car. I braked a bit early [into Pont Oscar], but Felix crashed into me and damaged my wheel.”
The second incident during race three was when Van Amersfoort Racing driver Verstappen was attempting to pass the slow-starting Ocon at the start but the Dutchman was amazed the Frenchman moved across on him, resulting in a damaged front-track rod end that ultimately broke and saw him end the race in the Pau barriers. Ocon admitted after the race he had not known Verstappen was alongside him at that point of the track.
“I was already next to his front wing and tyres,” said Verstappen. “The rules say you must leave a car width of space, but he just turned into me.”
Ocon was not penalised for either offence, and left the track comfortable on top of the championship standings having taken a trio of podiums.
“I reckon that I can be happy with the weekend in Pau,” said Ocon. “My car was running well in all the races and I was able to score many points.”