Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris Controversy Sparks Debate during 2023 F1 Italian GP Qualifying

2023-09-03 10:00:03

During the first part of qualifying for the 2023 F1 Italian GP, Esteban Ocon exceeded Lando Norris before the Ascari chicane, before the Briton passed it shortly before the Parabolic. The two men approached their flying turn and then seemed to be embarrassed when starting it, the McLaren finally starting it first. Returning to the pits after his effort, Norris launched on the radio “what the pilot Alpine did was very dangerous, by the way”.

After the session, Norris explained that he had been forced to go back to Ocon because of the maximum time imposed on the drivers, the same morning by race director Niels Wittich, in the exit and return laps. This measure had been taken to avoid the risks associated with traffic, which is particularly problematic in qualifying at Monza because the question of benefiting from suction is often added to that of maintaining the temperature of the tires.

“I think she is useful in many ways”the McLaren driver said of the added rule ahead of the session. “[Mais] it makes some things worse. You are forced to put yourself in certain situations rather than choosing to put yourself in them.”

“In Esteban’s case, it’s just that he passed me earlier in the lap. I think it was on the exit lap or something. So I was a bit late on my delta and I had to catch up with him, so I had to pass him again. He had plenty of time left on his hang glider, so he could probably afford to slow down a lot more than me. So he tried to pass me a little bit again, but I had to pass, otherwise I would have been below my delta.”

Overall, the Briton, ninth in the session, found these qualifications “cleaner” than expected. An observation that he puts down to a less crucial aspiration with the aerodynamic packages of F1 2023. “I think more cars didn’t want aspiration.”

“Maybe the aspiration was important in 2019, 2020, 2021; here it represented [un gain de temps de] six tenths, seven tenths. Today, it was probably only one or two tenths. I would say no one really seemed to care. Nobody wants to be first [de la file] but no one bothered to find the perfect aspiration, because I don’t think that really existed today.”

Asked about the situation Norris referred to, Ocon said for that he had not found the situation particularly dangerous. “It will always be very tight with this lap time [maximum]. I think he was probably on the limit with his time. So he had to go ahead. I still had a bit of leeway. I think we both did well. So it was not a problem. I didn’t find it dangerous.”

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With Adam Cooper

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