"Luckily there was run-off" - Unhappy Espargaro criticizes race stewards

Following two unpunished incidents with Enea Bastianini and Franco Morbidelli, an unhappy Aleix Espargaro harshly criticizes the race stewards.Β 

Aleix Espargaro at the French Grand Prix // Photo by Michelin Motorsports

Aleix Espargaro’s ninth-place finish at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans left him feeling as though his true potential went unrealized. Despite showing promise, two incidents during the race thwarted his progress.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Espargaro reflects. “But I wasn’t so bad. I think our pace was good enough for the top 5. But Enea (Bastianini) pushed me off at a very fast corner,” he recalls of the first incident.

The pivotal moment occurred in the twelfth lap when Espargaro found himself in sixth place, only for Bastianini to make a daring move in Turn 9, forcing Espargaro to veer off track and drop all the way down to ninth place.

“Fortunately, there was the run-off area. I don’t understand why he wasn’t penalized for that move,” Espargaro remarks, expressing his frustration. Although Bastianini received a long-lap penalty later on, it wasn’t for the incident with Espargaro but rather for cutting the corner.

Reflecting on the incident, Bastianini explains, “I tried to overtake him. He braked very late and went off the line, so I tried to dive inside.” However, his attempt led to a slide at the rear wheel and a need to cut the chicane.

Despite Espargaro’s efforts to regain lost ground, he encountered further setbacks, including a hit from Franco Morbidelli in the last chicane.

Espargaro’s frustration was compounded by the lack of penalties for his opponents. “If I hadn’t stood the bike up, I would have crashed,” he emphasizes. “I feel like they only punish things when you crash. But they should evaluate and penalize the actual action, not the consequences.”

When asked if he considered discussing the incidents with the race stewards, Espargaro dismisses the idea, believing it would yield no change. He critiques the stewards’ consistency in penalizing incidents, echoing recent criticism of the Steward Panel.

In contrast, Franco Morbidelli sees no fault in his maneuver, stating, “We didn’t even touch,” and downplaying the need for a penalty.

“I attempted an overtake in the last corner that Aleix wasn’t very happy about. But I’m used to that by now.”

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