Red Bull team principal Christian Horner labeled Esteban Ocon “totally irresponsible” for trying to overtake Max Verstappen and causing a collision in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ocon attempted to unlap himself against race leader Verstappen but hit the Red Bull, demoting him to second place behind Lewis Hamilton. Although Verstappen closed to within 1.4 seconds of Hamilton by the end of the race he was unable to regain the lead, and Horner was left angry at losing what he believes was a certain win.
“I am hugely frustrated to lose a victory like that,” Horner said. “We had a great racecar. Max was obviously able to make his way past the Ferraris and [Valtteri] Bottas early on in the race, and then close in on the race leader Lewis Hamilton and put him under pressure.
“They then pitted very early for the medium tire and Max’s pace on the supersoft was fantastic so we went as far as we could to give him the tire advantage for the second half of the race, put him onto the soft tire and he was able to cruise up and pass Lewis, obviously easily. And it was just managing the race from there when obviously a backmarker has decided to start racing the race leader and taken him out of the race.
“Hugely frustrating. A great recovery by Max with a car which was significantly damaged with half the floor missing to battle on and close the gap down again to Lewis towards the end of the race. On the one hand it was really encouraging that the pace for both drivers was right there but through the irresponsible actions of a backmarker we’ve lost the grand prix.”
And Horner disagrees with Hamilton’s opinion that Verstappen should have taken a different approach to being un-lapped by Ocon, with the world champion saying he wasn’t surprised to see contact because “Max is that go-getter guy and every now and then it bites you.”
“Max is the race leader at the end of the day and Ocon’s been lapped, he’s got a car which is much quicker on the straight,” Horner said. “What on earth did he think he was doing? If he felt he was that much quicker what would usually happen is he’d complain to his team and would mention it to Charlie and Charlie would quite often mention it to ourselves.
“It just wasn’t well handled by Ocon and just totally irresponsible to be racing… Max even had to defend into the first turn, it was totally irresponsible to be even dreaming of racing the race leader.”
Although Helmut Marko referenced Ocon’s links to Mercedes when voicing his own anger at the incident, Horner doesn’t believe there was anything deliberate in the collision.
“I think that’s a coincidence, I don’t believe there was any instruction. There’s obviously history between the two drivers but as I say, it was just a very bad judgement call by Ocon. He’s a lap down, he’s not even in the points and he’s racing the race leader.”