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Bahrain Grand Prix: Esteban Ocon equals unwanted record with three driving penalties before retiring

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon endured a miserable Sunday at the Sakhir circuit after being penalised for three driving infringements in one race; it equalled the mark previously set by Pastor Maldonado at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

Last Updated: 05/03/23 8:08pm

Esteban Ocon was handed three penalties by the stewards at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Esteban Ocon equalled an unwanted record in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix after being penalised three times for infringements by the stewards.

The Alpine driver was initially penalised for an inaccurate start position, then handed a further penalty for failing to serve that penalty properly during a pit stop, followed by a third infraction for speeding in the pit lane.

It equalled the mark for three driving penalties in one race set by Pastor Maldonado in the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix, and afterwards Ocon was at a loss to explain what happened.

“We were too forward on the grid spot – it was very clear,” Ocon said. “I don’t want to go into details, but usually we are very good on all these operational things.

“What we’ve done today, we’ve done it the same way I’ve done the last five years, but today it has been different.

“We need to analyse, we need to see what happened, and come back stronger from it.”

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado picked up three driving penalties in the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

Ocon had qualified ninth for the 2023 Formula 1 season-opening race but was undone on the grid when he was deemed by the stewards to have lined up with his right front tyre outside the starting box and given a five-second penalty.

Then while serving that in the pit lane, the Frenchman was hit with a further punishment for a mechanic starting work on his car with 4.6 seconds of the five seconds elapsed, resulting in a 10-second penalty.

To compound matters, Ocon was handed a further five-second penalty for exceeding the 80kph pit lane speed limit by 0.1kph, with a thoroughly miserable day being topped off by being forced to retire on lap 41 with a mechanical issue.

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Highlights of the F1 2023 season opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Highlights of the F1 2023 season opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The last time a racer was penalised for three driving infractions came eight years ago when Lotus driver Maldonado was punished for a collision with Sergio Perez and speeding in the pit lane, followed by having 10 seconds added to his overall race time for overtaking under a safety car.

Despite the forgettable start to the year, Ocon took some encouragement from the performance of Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly, who secured two points for the Enstone-based team with a ninth-place finish.

“It’s a missed opportunity today and we could have been in the points, so we’ll come back stronger,” Ocon said.

“We were fast like the Ferrari in that last stint. That could be very encouraging.”

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