A Formula 1 photographer has called for “better headlines” after a scary incident in the pitlane at the end of Sunday’s Azerbaijan GP.
The FIA summoned its own officials to explain the terrifying incident in which Alpine’s Esteban Ocon entered the pitlane at full speed to take a late pitstop – only to find a wall of mainly photographers gathered for the parce ferme proceedings.
“I’m arriving at 300kph,” Ocon said, “braking very late, and I see the people all around. Crazy.
“It could have been a big, big one today.”
Luckily, the crowd dispersed in the nick of time – although Ocon had to slow.
“That’s something that needs a review because Esteban is within his rights to pit on the last lap and finish the race in the pitlane if he wanted to,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner.
The FIA admitted the need to improve and “reconsider these procedures to ensure that this situation does not occur again”.
“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event,” F1’s governing body added.
Other observers and commentators, however – especially the headline writers and broadcasters – called it one of the most dangerous situations in Formula 1 in recent times.
But one of the photographers who had to hurriedly disperse, Russian Evgeniy Safronov, said the incident was not as bad as the headlines insist.
“I was there,” he said.
“It’s a great example of when the race was not the best so we need to discuss something. And we need better headlines than all the ‘It could have ended in tragedy’.
“I’ll tell you what happened,” Dubai-based Safronov added. “This time the FIA gave the go-ahead a little earlier than usual. And it wasn’t just photographers but also officials.
“Yes, it was certainly dangerous,” he added. “It shouldn’t have happened. “But in the very, very last case, there was a person behind the wheel and his car had brakes.”