Restart rules don’t need reviewing, says Masi as 12 drivers warned for their part in Mugello chaos
The stewards in Mugello had their hands full on Sunday evening as they tried to unpick the chaos that occurred at the early Safety Car restart in the Tuscan Grand Prix, eventually handing out warnings to 12 drivers for their part in accident. But FIA Race Director Michael Masi said there was no need to review the restart procedures, adding that the drivers had been warned of the unique circumstances at the Italian circuit…
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen were all eliminated in a huge accident as drivers at the rear of the field got up to racing speed before race leader Valtteri Bottas - controlling the pace after the Safety Car pulled off – had put his foot on the gas.
Bottas underlined his innocence in the situation after the race, and was backed up by the stewards who said he had the right to dictate the pace of the field until the control line (situated near the pit exit).
Instead, they found that the root cause of the incident was “the inconsistent application of throttle and brake, from the final corner along the pit straight” by the 12 drivers singled out for warnings, listed below.
The 12 drivers to recieve a warning:
- Kevin Magnussen
- Daniil Kvyat
- Nicholas Latifi
- Alexander Albon
- Lance Stroll
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Sergio Perez
- Lando Norris
- Esteban Ocon
- George Russell
- Antonio Giovinazzi
- Carlos Sainz
“The stewards acknowledge the challenges the location of the control line presents at this circuit and the desire of drivers to take advantage of the restart,” continued the statement. “However this incident demonstrates the need for caution to be exercised in the restart situation and note that there was an extreme concertina effect which dramatically increased as it moved down the field.
“We also note that some drivers might have avoided being involved in the incident had they not followed directly behind the car in front. By doing so they effectively blocked off all visibility of what was happening immediately in front of the preceding car.”
NO NEED FOR RULES REVIEW
After the race, Bottas and team mate Lewis Hamilton suggested the late turning off of the Safety Car lights (to indicate the return of the SC to the pits) was likely a key factor in the crash, but this was steadfastly rejected by Masi.
“Simply put, they can criticise all they want,” he said. “If we have a look at a distance perspective from where the lights were extinguished to the control line, it's probably not dissimilar, if not longer, than a number of other venues.
“The Safety Car lights go out where they do, the Safety Car is in pit lane, we have the 20 best drivers in the world, and as we saw earlier in the Formula 3 race those drivers in the junior category had a very, very similar restart to what was occurring in the F1 race and navigated it quite well, without incident.”
He also underlined that in his opinion the fault lay with the drivers, not the rules.
“I don’t think there’s any need to review the Safety Car restart rule,” Masi said.
“At the end of the day, the key part is the drivers were all advised very clearly at the drivers' meeting on Friday night, that there was two key parts to remind them: one was to ensure they don’t overtake the Safety Car before the Safety Car line at pit entry. The second part, which is unusual for this circuit, is the control line where they can overtake is located close to the pit lane exit.
“It’s not a surprise, and we’ve seen similar matters in Baku with such a long run to the control line, where the leader – who has every right to dictate the pace – has kept it quite slow to try and avoid a slipstream from the cars behind.”
Despite Masi’s comments, expect the situation to be a key talking point once again when the teams and drivers reconvene in Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix in a little under two weeks.