Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Sports

Motor racing-Ocon suffers triple penalty in Bahrain opener

By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) – Esteban Ocon started his Formula One season with an unwanted triple of time penalties before the Renault-owned Alpine team retired his car from Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Frenchman was first given a five-second penalty for being slightly out of position when he lined up ninth on the grid at the floodlit Sakhir circuit.

He then got a further 10-second penalty for serving the first one incorrectly, with the mechanics starting work on his car a fraction of a second too early.

A third, five-second, penalty followed when he was caught speeding as he exited the pitlane.

Team boss Otmar Szafnauer told reporters the second penalty was not the driver’s fault.

“We have a system that counts down into the mechanics’ ears to tell them when they can start and that was offset by four-tenths of a second,” he explained. “So then it kind of just spiralled out of control.

“I think the third one was pit speed limiter. Again, I think a half a metre early off the pit speed limiter button.

“All operational errors and we shouldn’t make them at this level. We’ll have an introspective view on them and not make them again.”

Szafnauer said Ocon’s engine had been running hot due to long pitstops and the team wanted to avoid any further damage so took the decision to retire him.

On the plus side for Alpine, Pierre Gasly started last but still scored on his team debut by finishing ninth after moving from Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)

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