Esteban Ocon says he has no complaints over being handed a three-place grid penalty for speeding under red flags in the final practice session triggered by confusion with his Force India delta time system.

Following Nico Hulkenberg’s crash in the closing minutes of FP3, Ocon was picked up for not slowing sufficiently under red flag conditions and was duly investigated by the FIA race stewards who gave the French driver a three-place grid drop.

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Ocon feels the penalty capped ‘not a great day’ for Force India having been convinced of his pace to lead the Formula 1 midfield battle at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The French driver revealed a mix-up with Force India’s time delta system, which sends radio beeps to Ocon when he is driving too slowly, meaning he unintentionally went too fast during the red flag after initially slowing down.

“I was coming in and I was respecting the delta and passed Nico’s incident so I was going quite slow but then I started to have some beeps and I got confused with the beeps,” Ocon said. “Normally in qualifying when you have the beeps for the delta time so you have to go faster.

“Basically I went two seconds faster than the delta time for too long a period and then I slowed down again and I got told a bit too late that I was going a bit too fast.

“It was a mistake from my side and a mistake from the team to not tell me in time.”

Ocon is eager for Force India to learn from the incident to avoid the confusion in the future with its time delta system.

“There was a bit too much panic and not good communication so we are all a bit disappointed with what happened today,” he said. “It was similar for Sergio today with both cars doing the same mistakes. We’ll try to analyse and come back stronger.”

Ocon also feels Force India’s Q3 strategy in mixed conditions backfired to compound its frustrations having fuelled for the whole session expecting the rain to relent at the end of the session.

Instead the rain intensified meaning all of the drivers' opening laps remained the best efforts leaving him initially in eighth place before the FP3 penalty pushed him down to 11th.

“For qualifying we definitely had the pace for fifth as we were fastest in all three practices,” he said “And Q1 we were quick and Q2.

“What happened in Q3 was that we went out and we were not sure if it was the right tyre to be on as Ferrari went on inters but it was actually the right tyre.

“We fuelled up for more laps thinking the track was going to dry but our out lap was wrong as we thought we needed a lot more temperature as the track might be damp but it was not.”

 

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