Esteban Ocon has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the Brazilian Grand Prix after stewards deemed he blocked Jolyon Palmer during qualifying on Saturday.
The Manor Racing MRT driver had qualified twentieth, ahead of both of the Sauber F1 Team racers, but will now start right at the back of the field, with both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr now ahead after Ocon was deemed to have blocked Renault Sport Formula One Team racer Palmer at turn four.
“At the end of the Q1 session, the driver of car 31 (Ocon) was on a slow lap having aborted his lap previously, while the driver of car 30 (Palmer) was on a fast lap,” read the stewards statement. “Entering the braking area of Turn 4 Ocon stayed on the racing line at the moment when Palmer was approaching, forcing Palmer off the racing line.
“At that time, Ocon was on the radio with his team, who did not inform him of the approaching car. When Ocon did see Palmer, he moved as far as possible to the right to avoid a dangerous situation, but the stewards concluded these were not mitigating factors, and that Ocon clearly impeded Palmer.”
The block also came with two penalty points to his Superlicence, meaning he now has four in total having acquired two during the Singapore Grand Prix for overtaking behind the safety car, and Ocon admitted that his team did not inform him that Palmer was behind him.
“The team didn’t tell me Palmer was coming, I saw him at the last moment,” said Ocon on Autosport. “It was a complicated situation. We were discussing if I could do another lap, so the team was busy discussing that and didn’t check that Palmer was coming.
“I couldn’t move at that time because it could have been dangerous. I was not aware he was coming, so I blocked him. That was clear. I take the penalty, which is deserved. We start at the back now so we need a good start to get ahead of Sauber.”