Your questions: Two hour time limit

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Jonathan Markevich wrote in to ask:

I have been looking everywhere to find out why the two hour time limit was not enforced on the European GP last weekend. This should have had a big impact on Giancarlo Fisichella’s strategy, among others who might have short-fueled, presuming the race wouldn’t go 60 laps.

Any insights?

Sure enough Fernando Alonso’s winning time was two hours, six minutes 26.358 seconds. Here’s why it was legal:

Jonathan is quite right to point out that the FIA stipulates a two hour time limit for Grands Prix. Article 5.3 of the Sporting Regulations says:

The distance of all races, from the start signal to the chequered flag, shall be equal to the least number of complete laps which exceed a distance of 305 km (Monaco 260km). However, should two hours elapse before the scheduled race distance is completed, the leader will be shown the chequered flag when he crosses the control line at the end of the lap during which the two hour period ended.

But that article also includes this important line:

However, should the race be suspended the length of the suspension will be added to this period.

From looking at my video of the race I can see there were at least 16 minutes between the red flag and the safety car setting off to restart the race (the actual total will be several minutes more as the adverts are cut out on my video – it would have been at least 20).

Adding that extra time onto the two hours means the race finished with around quarter of an hour to spare.

I would have expected all the teams to have known that and I’m sure Fisichella and the Renault team would have been on top of it – Pat Symonds is one smart cookie.

The act of ‘suspending’ the race in this fashion is relatively new to F1 – the red flag is hardly seen at all these days. Race control have relied on the safety car even in some of the most extreme situations such as when two marshals were killed (Melbourne, 2000 and Monza, 2001) and on occasions when people have run onto the circuit (Hockenheim, 2000 and Silverstone, 2003).

The 2001 Belgian Grand Prix was suspended in this way when Luciano Burti crashed on lap four, causing a race stoppage.

They have a similar rule in the F3 Euroseries and the first of two races at Oschersleben in 2005 was suspended due to heavy rain. Once it finally got going again Lucas di Grassi’s winning time for the 20 lap, 73km race was five hours, one minute 3.295 seconds. That’s an average speed of 14.6kph!

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Keith Collantine
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6 comments on “Your questions: Two hour time limit”

  1. So this is clear… But it seems like nobody is willing to tackle the issue Hamilton vs Crane … Nobody really cares as he finished outside of the points. But I am sure there would be lots of shouting should score some points or even podium… On what grounds was he allowed to rejoin the race after the suspension when he was clearly out of it and his car was clearly recovered from the gravel by the crane. And there is clear evidence from TV, that he crashed and was recovered before the race was suspended. At the time he was hanging from the crane there were yellow flags and safety car … No red flags in sight …

  2. OK – I promise a post on Hamilton and the Crane shortly…

  3. That F3 race was ridiculous – it’s nearly swimming pace!

    As for Lewis Hamilton and the crane, he was allowed to rejoin with the assistance of the crane because the rules allow the marshals to assist any car whose engine is still running to leave a dangerous place.

    Since there had already been seven people come off the corner there (five DNFs, Hamilton and a Ferrari that rejoined the race under its own power), the entire gravel trap could have been deemed “a dangerous position”. The marshals decided it was quicker to get the crane to dump Hamilton at the track’s edge than to dump it on the other side of the barrier. Since he was the only driver to have left his engine running, and the McLaren’s engine can idle for ages, the marshals were permitted to deposit Hamilton at the track edge to clear the trap quicker.

    I wonder if this will make other teams consider altering their idle settings to allow longer idle times?

  4. So that explains why my TiVo froze asking if I wanted to delete the finished program at the exact instant Alonso was overtaking with six laps to go… thank you for clearing that up.

    I wonder why it was okay to get Hamilton’s car out of the gravel via crane too, because I think it would happen way more often if it is legal to do so.

    I wonder if FIM’s crashing rules for motorcycle GP’s are related?

  5. A large number of thanks on your outstanding blogging site. I tremendously are keen on it and will probably be visting again to check out much more.

  6. I don’t know if the question has been fully answered and maybe since it’s been 8 years, you know yourself the answers but here’s why it went over 2 hours. The rule sates 2 hours but these days the clock keeps running during stoppages but that time though marked as the official race time does not effect the 2 hours for the race itself. I don’t know how much sense I’ve made, so I’ll give an example. Say a race starts at 1pm and is then red flagged at 1:35pm. So that means the race time is 35 minutes. Now we have 22 minutes of time passing before the restart. This means the race gets going again at 1:57pm. The clock will keep running saying 57 minutes but the 2 hours limit for the race itself will only state 35 minutes. So now the race gets going at 1:57 and with a lot of rain and stuff it finishes at 3:07pm. Now it will say race 2hrs 7 minutes… but the actual race ran 1hr 45 minutes. Since then we had the Canadian gp in 2011 which is considered the lobgest race of all time. The race was stopped for 2 hours though. I think this thing of adding the time for stoppages is pretty dumb but I don’t watch F1 anymore, anyway.

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