Despite the fact that Esteban Ocon basically admitted that the team informed him to let Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pass during the Monaco Grand Prix, Force India still denies giving any instructions to French racing driver. As usual, the Monte Carlo race did not see a lot of overtake action since the track is too narrow for the new Formula 1 cars, yet Lewis Hamilton passed Esteban Ocon so easily that not surprisingly many believed the Silverstone team was doing a favour to their engine maker by allowing the British driver through.
Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen who was ahead of Ocon at that moment, believed the four-time world champion was just waved through by the Frenchman. The Iceman said: “Obviously they pitted in the traffic but it was a Force India car and they got let by him. We stayed two laps out, but it takes such a long time to clean the front that it didn’t really give us any opportunity [to pass].” – Kimi explained.
Some new sources quoted Ocon telling them he was following orders. But the rumour was denied by Force India’s management. Speaking with Racefans.net, the outfit’s deputy principal Bob Fernley said their fight was for the midfield, so holding up the Briton would be of no use to them: “We were looking at tyre strategies. There’s just no point [to hold Hamilton up] because we needed to get him home with a comfortable one-stop. [Hamilton] could have been anybody,” he added, “it could have been Ricciardo or Vettel.” – the Force India boss added.
For Hamilton, the entire race was a boring procession and the only highlight was his passing of Ocon: “It was the most exciting part of the race, I got to overtake someone!. I was excited for a second. But he didn’t put up a big fight or anything like that so it wasn’t too difficult.” Ocon’s sixth-place finish helped Force India move one step up in the team’s standing. Their performance this weekend may even indicate the Silverstone outfit is back to take its rightful place in the ‘best of the rest’ category for the third year in a row.