Esteban Ocon’s remarkable record of finishing every Formula 1 race he started came to a disappointing end in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix after being eliminated in a first-lap crash with Romain Grosjean.
Since debuting at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, Ocon had seen the checkered flag in all 27 races he had started, breaking Max Chilton’s record for the most consecutive finishes from debut in F1.
This ‘Oconsistency’ stretched all the way back to the 2014 Macau Grand Prix in single-seaters, with the Frenchman having not retired throughout his title-winning GP3 campaign in 2015.
Ocon’s run came to an end in Brazil after being sent into the barrier at Turn 6 on the opening lap when Romain Grosjean lost control of his car when trying to defend his position on the inside, causing contact with the Force India.
“I’m not happy to retire from the race. I knew this day would come at some stage, but I wasn’t expecting it to be today,” Ocon said.
“It’s a shame because it has been three years since my last retirement in single-seaters. There was nothing I could do; Romain lost the car in turn six and crashed into me.
“He made a mistake and I suffered from it, my front wheel rim was damaged so I couldn’t even drive back to the pits.
“It’s frustrating because the car was quick and we had the pace to be fighting up there with Checo [Perez, who finished eighth].
“Days like this happen but I hope it will be another three years before it happens again.”
Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.
An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.
The news was first reported by RACER.com.
With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.
In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.