FIA race director Charlie Whiting has criticised Esteban Ocon’s action in “fighting” to unlap himself against race leader Max Verstappen and explains how Formula 1 drivers are expected to undergo the move.

Ocon was slapped with a 10-second stop/go penalty for colliding with Verstappen while attempting to unlap himself during the Brazilian Grand Prix which led to the Red Bull driver losing the lead to Lewis Hamilton and ultimately his shot at victory.

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The Force India driver reasoned he’s allowed to attempt to unlap himself as part of F1 rules which has led to Whiting providing clarity on the situation. The F1 race director says any unlapping manoeuvres must be clean without battling against the leading car which Ocon failed to adhere to.

“He’s absolutely allowed to unlap himself. That’s clear,” Whiting said. “It’s happened many times in the past. Of course you expect it to be done safely, but more to the point, I think it should be done cleanly and absolutely without fighting. You shouldn’t be fighting to get past.

“If he’s got the pace, then normally one would expect Red Bull to say Ocon’s got the pace, just let him through, that sort of thing.

“But it seemed that he just went for it, and it was just a bit unfortunate that he decided to fight for it which was wholly unacceptable.”

As a result, Whiting has backed the FIA Stewards’ decision to hand Ocon the second toughest penalty available, the toughest being disqualification from the race, but feels the context of the incident – which saw Verstappen effectively lose the race win – had no bearing on the decision.

“I don’t think it makes any difference that he was the leader,” Whiting reasoned. “It makes it worse in a lot of peoples’ eyes, but as far as the stewards are concerned, that doesn’t matter.”

The Ocon-Verstappen clash, both during the race and their post-race scrap which saw the Dutch driver handed a two-day ‘public service’ order for physically attacking his F1 rival, marked the end of a busy Brazilian Grand Prix for the FIA Stewards after Sebastian Vettel was slapped with a reprimand and a 25,000 fine for breaking the car weighbridge during qualifying with his Ferrari.

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