Esteban Ocon has been demoted three places on the Japanese Grand Prix starting grid after failing to slow sufficiently under the red flag during the final practice session at Suzuka.

Following Nico Hulkenberg’s crash in the closing minutes of FP3, Force India’s Ocon was summoned to the FIA stewards post-qualifying after his split times picked up the French driver for not slowing sufficiently when the red flags were shown.


As a result, Ocon has been dropped three grid spots meaning he will line-up in 11th place, promoting Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to eighth, Force India team-mate Sergio Perez to ninth and Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Charles Leclerc to tenth.

Ocon has also picked up two penalty points for the offence, marking his first points over the 12-month rolling period, and in the FIA stewards’ notice following the decision it revealed a confusion with Force India’s time delta system which triggered the incident.

The French driver had initially slowed down for the red flags but at Turn 4 he heard radio beeps, a Force India system used to inform him he is going too slowly, and duly sped up. But consequently he exceeded the maximum speed allowed over three mini sectors which resulted in the infringement.

“The Stewards reviewed the video evidence, positioning data and telemetry, and heard from the driver of car 31 (Esteban Ocon) and team representative,” the FIA stewards report explained.

“The driver informed the Stewards, and the telemetry showed, that he had slowed down for the red flags. However, after Turn 4, he heard some beeps on his radio that suggested that he was too slow and sped up briefly to regularise his speed.

“In doing so, he briefly exceeded the delta by a maximum of -1.68 over three mini sectors. As a result, he had failed to maintain the speed delta required under the regulations resulting in an infringement.

“He acknowledged the infringement and attributed it to the confusion caused by the beeps and the system currently being used by the team in such situations.

“In the end, given the importance of observance of the speed restrictions while red flags are being shown and recognising the limited extent of the breach, we decided to impose the above penalty.”