Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Force India’s Esteban Ocon says he felt Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was to blame for their opening lap collision in Baku.
The pair were squabbling over P6 into Turn 3 on the first lap, with Ocon slightly ahead of the Ferrari as they braked for the corner. With Raikkonen mostly alongside, Ocon turned into the apex of the corner. Raikkonen, left with nowhere to go, made heavy contact with the Force India, pitching it into the wall. Ocon was out on the spot, while Raikkonen continued on to finish on the podium.
A fuming Ocon was left to watch teammate Sergio Perez claim P3 and another podium, and said that he laid the blame for the collision solely at the feet of Raikkonen:
“It’s disappointing not to finish the race on a day in which we had such good pace. I had a flying start and I managed to pass Kimi [Raikkonen]. I was ahead of him all the way to turn two and when we went into the corner. I was behind Ricciardo but Kimi made a lunge and put me in the barriers. I feel it was my corner and I was on the racing line, but he locked up and hit me. I feel the mistake was on his side: we’ll see what the Stewards say but that won’t change the outcome for me. It’s a shame because Sergio showed we had the pace to do really well here today. I am still very pleased for the team’s result and I hope we can carry our performance forward to Barcelona and beyond.”
Otmar Szafnauer from Force India said afterwards that he “didn’t know what Raikkonen was thinking, probably nothing at all” and that “it was disappointing to lose Esteban on lap one when he was taken out by Raikkonen because he would surely have scored points as well. The result gives us a nice boost as we return to Europe and shows just how much progress we have made over the last month to bring performance to the car.”