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Formula 1 Japanese GP

Ocon penalised for red flag offence

Racing Point Force India driver Esteban Ocon will drop three places on the grid for Formula 1's Japanese Grand Prix for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags in practice.

Esteban Ocon, Racing Point Force India VJM11

Ocon was adjudged to have breached red flag rules during the third free practice session of the weekend, after Renault's Nico Hulkenberg crashed to suspend the session.

The stewards' statement explained that Ocon had been confused by Force India's system for managing pace under red flags and ended up speeding for three mini-sectors of the lap.

“The driver informed the Stewards, and the telemetry showed, that he had slowed down for the red flags,” the decision read.

“However, after Turn 4, he heard some beeps on the radio that suggested he was too slow and sped up briefly to regularize his speed.

“In doing so, he briefly exceeded the delta by a maximum of -1.68 [seconds] over three mini sectors.

“As a result, he had failed to maintain the speed delta required under the regulations, resulting in an infringement.

“He acknowledged the infringement and attributed it to confusion caused by the beeps and the system currently being used by the team in such situations.

“In the end, given the importance of observance of the speed restrictions while red flags are being shown and recognising the limited extend of the breach, we decided to impose the above penalty.”

Ocon, who was best of the rest behind the three top teams in all three practice sessions, qualified an initial eighth in a mixed-weather Q3.

He will now drop behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, Force India teammate Sergio Perez and Sauber's Charles Leclerc to start 11th.

The Frenchman has also picked up two penalty points, having had none on his license for the 12-month period heading into the weekend.

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