A group of photographers was nearly run over by a Formula 1 car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday, and an inquiry is now underway to find out what happened.
Apparently believing the race had finished, a crowd of photographers and officials had gathered in the pit lane in anticipation of the podium celebrations.
However, on the very last lap of the race, French driver Esteban Ocon came into the pits for a change of tires and as he entered the garage area there was a crowd of people in his way.
“I’m arriving at 186 miles per hour,” (300 kilometers per hour) Ocon says, “[I’m] braking very late, and I see the people all around. Crazy. It could have been a big, big one today.”
The onboard footage from Ocon’s Alpine F1 car shows how blind he is when entering the pits and did not see the gathered photographers until late on — it forced him to take avoiding action by hitting the brake pedal harder than normal.
The governing body of F1, the FIA, admits that the situation needs to be looked and “reconsider these procedures to ensure that this situation does not occur again.”
“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event,” it adds.
Russian photographer Evgeniy Safronov was in the media scrum that was nearly run over and insisted that it wasn’t as bad as it seems.
“It’s a great example of when the race was not the best so we need to discuss something. And we need better headlines than all the ‘It could have ended in tragedy’,” he says.
“I’ll tell you what happened, this time the FIA gave the go-ahead a little earlier than usual. And it wasn’t just photographers but also officials,” he says.
“Yes, it was certainly dangerous and it shouldn’t have happened. But in the very, very last case, there was a person behind the wheel and his car had brakes.”
The race was held in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku and was won by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who is attempting to take the fight to his double-world champion teammate Max Verstappen.