Video: How Not To Pass…Or Be Passed

News, Racing I By Tom Martin I August 30, 2017

At the Belgian Grand Prix in 2017, there was an incident between Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon that ended with a few tears shed. While, as with most crashes, there were strong opinions about who was wrong and who was wronged, in the end it was judged a racing incident by the F1 stewards (i.e. no action taken). Nonetheless, neither driver was happy and Perez suffered in the final results because of a cut tire.

Here is video of what happened:

We like to use these very public displays of passing gone wrong to ask if there "is anything amateur racers can learn from them?" And usually the answer is "yes".

In this case we note a few things that we can learn from:

  1. Perez seems to clearly walk Ocon over to the wall, which doesn't fit with the requirement that all amateur sanctioning bodies in the U.S. have for drivers to "leave racing room".
  2. Perez seems to move right in response to Ocon's attempted pass, which would qualify as a "block". But as it turns out, moving to the right is pretty much the standard line, because drivers have to open up the initial left kink of Eau Rouge.
  3. Assuming Perez saw Ocon (Perez said he did and he has mirrors), his move was risky as the result shows: Perez ended up with a cut tire and a loss of positions.
  4. Almost all commentators noted that Ocon's move was "aggressive" or "optimistic". What they really mean is "unnecessary", because Ocon could have waited until both cars were through Eau Rouge and then used the draft to make his pass on the long Kemmel straight.
  5. Even if we say that Perez was also aggressive, almost all steward's calls start with the idea that the aggressor (the car making the pass) is in the wrong when there is contact. So, since he was the aggressor, Ocon risked a penalty.

In reality, this looks like another case of red mist overriding strategic driving.

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