Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says Esteban Ocon should have received a race ban for colliding with leader Max Verstappen in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The two drivers came together at Turn 2 as Ocon tried to un-lap himself, spinning both cars and demoting Verstappen to second place behind Lewis Hamilton. With the Mercedes driver going on to win and Ocon a Mercedes junior, a furious Marko was not happy with the ten-second stop-and-go penalty handed out by the stewards.
“A Mercedes driver who is promised a seat for 2020, that crashes into the leading car — unbelievable,” Marko told German publication Motorsport-Magazin. “They should have told him ‘this is the leader, he has new tires, don’t attack him.’ And then this idiot gets a ten-second penalty. I would have expected a race ban.”
When informed of Marko’s comments, Toto Wolff refused to directly address his fellow Austrian’s insinuation that Ocon’s links to Mercedes could have played a role in the incident.
“He was a on a new tire, much faster, tried to un-lap himself, which is fair enough,” Wolff said. “Then they crashed and because Max was in the lead, that was an incident that I’m sure Esteban would have wanted to avoid rather than being out there in the press with all the criticism.
“This is how Dr. Marko sees the world and I want to leave it with that. I don’t want to go on this level.”
And Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer also dismissed Marko’s suggestion.
“That’s a conspiracy theory and I doubt a racing driver is thinking about his drive for 2020 with what he does today,” Szafnauer said. “Absolutely not. Esteban came on the radio and said ‘can I un-lap myself because I am quicker’ and we said yes go ahead. That’s it.
“He [had to pass] because at that point he had a tire advantage and we probably would have had a tire advantage for five, six, seven, eight laps. Whatever Max was doing to gently bring his tires in, we didn’t need to do that.
“At six laps with a half-second tire advantage, three seconds, we were racing other people and can’t get stuck even though it is behind the race leader. So yes we had to do it. In our race we had to do it.”