When Lewis Hamilton pitted in an attempt to undercut and pass second-place Sebastian Vettel during the Monaco Grand Prix, he came out right on the tail of Ocon but, despite struggling to get anywhere near to the back of Vettel’s Ferrari during the first stint of the race, it looked suspiciously easy for the championship leader to pass Ocon — a member of Mercedes’ young driver program.
Granted, Ocon was on much older tires, and the Mercedes is a much stronger car, but Hamilton was able to glide past unchallenged. Such was the ease that even the television commentators suggested potential foul play at the time.
“Maybe,” said Ocon when asked whether there was an unwritten rule. “I’m a Mercedes driver, you should ask the boss. It was pointless to fight with him, especially as he had new tires.”
Ocon finished sixth in the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, and Hamilton finished on the podium in third.
Belgium newspaper La Dernière Heure asked Mercedes boss Toto Wolff about the situation, to which Wolf replied “Yes, because that’s the way it is.”
If there has indeed been foul play and Mercedes did order Ocon to move out of the way, the FIA may decide to issue some pretty stern punishments to the German manufacturer. The only similar incident to this, which if proven to be true is tantamount to fixing the race result, is in Singapore in 2008 when Renault ordered Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash his car to benefit and ultimately gift a victory to teammate Fernando Alonso.
While not as extreme in this instance, the 2008 saw Renault handed a suspended disqualification from the championship while those who made the call were initially banned from working in the sport
Story and image: Autoweek