Esteban Ocon explains Las Vegas qualifying incident after Max Verstappen labels him ‘stupid idiot’

Esteban Ocon will start the 2023 Las Vegas GP in 16th place

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Esteban Ocon has offered an explanation after an incident with Max Verstappen in Qualifying saw the Alpine driver drop out at the Q1 stage at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Ocon and Verstappen were seen tripping over one another towards the end of the first part of qualifying, as they both sought to get final runs in. In the end, it cost the Frenchman who was eliminated, with the Dutchman labelling Ocon a “stupid idiot” over team radio.

“The difference between me and him is that I have to do that lap because I had traffic in that first lap,” Ocon explained to the press.

“And if I don’t do the second one, I’m out. He has plenty of pace so he can afford not to do his second lap. But we were not respecting the delta so we have to go, for the lap.

“We were plus on the delta, there was three cars queuing, but we had to go. We were going to be illegal and I already got penalised last race for one of these things so it shouldn’t happen again. I had no choice, I had to go.”

“So that was it. The difference between me and Max is that Max is third, I’m 17th (sic. 16th).”

Ocon and Verstappen tempers flare again

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon Alpine at the start of 2023 US Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the Ocon and Verstappen cross swords, with them having a physical altercation at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2018 after the pair collided out on track.

Clearly there’s an underlying tension between the two that bubbles up now and again, but in this instance it is Ocon who has paid the heavier price.

Indeed, with his Alpine teammate Pierre Gasly set to line up fourth for the race, the Frenchman will be thinking about what could have been for his own prospects had qualifying been incident free.

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