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F1 pitlane invasion: FIA vs FIA and how chaos came so close to catastrophe

F1 pitlane invasion: FIA vs FIA and how chaos came so close to catastrophe

F1 pitlane invasion: FIA vs FIA and how chaos came so close to catastrophe

F1 pitlane invasion: FIA vs FIA and how chaos came so close to catastrophe

Just when you think you've seen it all in Formula 1, you can trust the FIA to come along and make you realise there's always something unprecedented around the corner.

Sunday's 17:25 document from the FIA's stewards summoning the, uhhh... FIA, to explain themselves might not be Abu Dhabi 2021 levels of egregious, but I don't think anyone had it on their 2023 bingo card.

Of course, it's correct that the FIA must investigate the steps which led to the terrifying scenes greeting Esteban Ocon upon his pit lane entry on the penultimate lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Thankfully, it's rare that the danger in Formula 1 outside of the sport's 20 drivers is quite so on display, as we saw at the tail end of Baku's 51 laps, and we must applaud the FIA for their role in making the pinnacle of motorsport appear so safe.

However, if we can acknowledge the FIA's safety-first priorities have transformed Formula 1 from a regularly-fatal activity into something with a high degree of perceived safety, then we should also hold their feet to the fire when they came so close to an entirely avoidable disaster.

Although, yes, such a late pit stop is a rarity in a conventional Grand Prix, it's not unheard of. After all, we all remember Alex Albon's tyre-whispering antics in Australia last year.

Even Australia's latest entry just one race ago with THREE red flags shows how quickly a track can go from green to yellow or red, and any driver might be heading in for repairs or to take advantage of a slowdown on any lap of the race.

Baku incident could have been catastrophic

In the Sliding Doors alternate universe of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where the media didn't get out of the way in time, there wouldn't be memes filling social media about Ocon's pit lane entry being akin to old-school rally stages; there'd be Formula 1 under the microscope from every news outlet on the planet.

At a time when the sport's popularity is booming, a car running over a dozen people would be one of the world's top stories for weeks.

Alpine withdrawing from Formula 1, a forever-changed Esteban Ocon, life-changing injuries for some, manslaughter charges for others, funerals, and grieving families fill that parallel universe I'm so glad not to inhabit. It's a serious failing.

What confuses me the most in the ridiculousness of this incident is all the small stuff the FIA does sweat while, somehow, being nonchalant regarding a live pit lane when the chequered flag hasn't even waved.

Teams celebrating wins by cheering from the pit wall? Stop that!

Is Lewis Hamilton wearing jewellery? Must try and ban!

Formula 1 stars attempting to use their reach to spread messages of peace and equality? Get that out of here!

But allowing the media to stand and wait at an empty car park next to a live pit lane for five minutes? No problem here!


FIA must get priorities right

I'm certain this pit lane near-miss will be the last one we see, thanks to the serious questions about the procedure which will come this week, but that the FIA had to summon the FIA to start that conversation when so many innocuous issues like jewellery and political statements seemingly sat higher in the priority list is ridiculous.

As it's said on every ticket or pass I've had to every circuit I've visited, "Motor Racing is dangerous."

Perhaps to help the FIA from needing to summon themselves in the future, the circuits should append: "Letting dozens of people onto a live pit lane during a race is utter madness."

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