Whiting defends decision to start qualifying after Grosjean crash

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula One race director Chrarlie Whiting defended the decision to start qualifying on time after Romain Grosjean crashed on the pit straight at Monza.

The Haas driver crashed before the braking zone for tur none after his car aquaplaned. Afterwards Grosjean said the conditions “weren’t safe” to start the session.

“I said it straight from the beginning on the out-lap,” he said. “And obviously I’m unfortunately the example that they weren’t safe to drive. If you lose the car on the straight line it just shows that it’s too dangerous.”

However Whiting said the weather conditions deteriorated after the decision to start qualifying was taken.

“I think when we decided to go after that conditions got a bit worse,” said Whiting.

“We can look into the reasons for Grosjean crashing but unfortunately these things happen from time to time when drivers are pushing hard.”

Grosjean said race control should have listened to the feedback from himself and other drivers about the conditions after the session began.

“On the out-lap I was complaining a lot and I wasn’t the only one,” he said. “Having a quicker reaction would have avoided me to crash.”

“I’m lucky it wasn’t a bigger one: I crossed the track twice and I’m lucky no one was behind.”

Grosjean added that choosing not to run in the session or to drive at a reduced speed was not a realistic option.

“If everyone else is going what can you do?” he asked. “We’re representing a team.”

“You can choose to go very slowly but it’s maybe even more dangerous. I just think we should have postponed the beginning.”

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    35 comments on “Whiting defends decision to start qualifying after Grosjean crash”

    1. Grosjean once more.

    2. F1 is all about how fast a car can go, how fast a driver dears to go and how fast the track will let you go.

      If any of these will prevent you of going 300KM/h then go slower.

      Now qualify !

      1. Exactly. Grosjean once more just run out of talent. Good drivers factor in the poor wet weather tires by pirelli.

        1. Tyres has nothing to do with Grosjean accident, it’s the bottom of the car that goes aquaplaning, not tyres. If you see Hamilton’s lap onboard, tyres are looking fine.

          1. Um, no.

            The bottom of the car should never be making consistent contact with the road surface; the tires are the vehicle’s contact with the road. Aquaplaning is water build up beneath the tire, such that the vehicle loses contact with the road surface, losing ability to steer or decelerate, and effectively turns into a boat.

      2. Totally agree. I don’t know where this attitude has come from. Go as fast as you can in the conditions… if it’s too difficult, go a bit slower.

        Ayrton Senna must be rolling in his grave…

        1. Ayrton was always my hero!!………….. still is!

          The sport isn’t the same now mate! Less for us !!

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      2nd September 2017, 13:47

      I think Charlie is forgetting that it’s talent that allows you to tackle these conditions, not money. Unfortunately that means that green flagging a session in these conditions is too dangerous for several drivers on the grid.

      1. Exactly. Meanwhile Hamilton and Vettel show what the ability to drive in the wet means with their set times. If you can’t handle the rain, slow down and let those who can show you how.

      2. @petebaldwin, course, I suspect that had it been a front running driver, such as Vettel or Ricciardo, who had aquaplaned off the track, I suspect that most posters here wouldn’t be complaining that the driver was useless, but would instead be saying “why did Whiting allow the session to start in such poor conditions?”.

        1. Trust me. My reaction would be the same.

        2. +1 there becomes a point with an F1 car where no matter how slowly you drive it just floats. This will happen to some cars before others, it might not be the drivers fault entirely.

          It can be like asking the 100m sprint race to be run on an ice rink. Someone will probably get to the end eventually but it’s going to end up being a crap shoot.

        3. But didn’t Grosjean control the first loss of traction only to get greedy and try to get on the power?

    4. Grosjean is seriously pathetic. Leave Formula 1 for drivers with the talent and courage to drive in wet weather, please.

    5. Hahahahah, that Helmut Marko: ‘We’re just delaying and delaying’, ‘We all know Grosjean makes these mistakes’ and ‘When it’s raining, its’s slippery, everyone knows that.’

      1. I was laughing out loud after he said, although I think Grosjean is a fine driver, personally. I don’t think he’ll take Marko seriously or care what he had to say, honestly :P

    6. Grosjean moaning again? Not sure if this is news anymore to be honest.

      1. @john-h It wasn’t just Grosjean, Every driver that was on the track at that point were talking about aquaplaning on the straight & saying they felt the session should be stopped.

        1. I’m sure you’re right. I’m just so tired of hearing Grosjean blame others. Only one driver dropped it, some contriteness on his part as well as blaming the officials would be refreshing.

          Gladly, I’ve lately heard him mention he needs to change his attitude a little so I guess it’s a start @gt-racer

    7. JYS sure seems to be enjoying himself.

      1. Always a pleasure listening to what Alain Prost has to say.

    8. We shouldn’t stop the Sessions because of Grosjean crashen. He crashen all the time. Helmut Marko


    9. Are we dealing with the best cars, drivers and teams in the world….or are they just overpaid sissies? Lets go!

    10. I am really surprised by all the Grosjean haters here in comments. That’s aquaplaning: you can drive normally when its like 1mm of water on the tarmac, but once you hit 2mm deep spot, you are a passenger. You can’t notice such spots and it has nothing to do with talent, only with the size of your balls and fortune. And in such conditions if something happens with the car in front of you, it’s nearly impossible to brake or steer off to avoid the collision. So it’s luck and not talent again. In the times when F1 promotes safety (including solving non-existing problems with some ugly flip-flops), it is pure hypocrisy to defend the stupidest decision to start such crash-gamble. And more, they almost cancelled the P3 (where drivers could’ve been careful), but allowed the qualy. Logic? Zero.

    11. Charlie just watching his back after the Jules situation (RIP)

    12. I guarantee that if those that criticize these decisions ever did a lap in these cars in these conditions they would very, very quickly change there opinions.

      Its super easy to sit safely at home watching on TV & complain about them not running in various conditions, However your not the ones driving them so have no idea on what its actually like, If you did I guarantee you wouldn’t complain about these decisions..

      1. i have no doubt that you are correct. i certainly believe that i have no right to really critisise the drivers for complaining about bad conditions such as today as i have only ever driven a road car at road speeds.

        i have little doubt that jumping into a race car in the wet would be a real eye opener.

      2. @gt-racer, to that end, as I saw one commentator on another forum pithily put it, “anybody can be a hero when they’re sat behind their keyboard”.

    13. Grosjean is a fine driver. he may not be a Vettel or a Hamilton but, this morning’s crash was not his doing it was Whitings.
      One again,and I do mean AGAIN,we see poor decisions on the part of an F1 official. When one compares the height of the sport with the poor officiating which occurs on a regular basis I can say that proportionately F1 may have the worst officials in all of sport. That is of extra concern because we are speaking of an activity in which the participants risk life and limb daily.
      Since it it unlikely that the powers that be will overhaul their staff the intelligent thing to do is to enact a rule change .
      The fair thing to do in reaction to Grosjean’s crash would have been to allow him to reenter the qualifying session . There are situations where a red flag should mean that the driver is precluded from the qualifying process but, where the disqualifying event is caused by a condition outside of the control of the driver and especially where the driver had raised an objection to the process taking place, to punish him and his team is anything but,fair .
      It was not like Grosjean said,” the weather is bad ,this is my chance to catch up with the better funded teams, let me at them”. Grosjean was heard seconds before the crash saying that the session should be suspended because of the rain.
      If you have ever asked ,”why is F1 losing popularity”? This morning’s event was a prime example .
      It was unfair to the driver and his team, it was a harsh and mindless application of a rule against a “lesser” team and it hurt the only American team in the sport and don’t underestimate the need for F1 to cultivate a strong US fan base . If Haas drops out so will many Us fans especially the new ones or the cross over fans who know of Haas’s reputation in other disciplines .
      In sum, there was no up side to the red flag elimination of Grosjean this morning and to those who castigated him for his complaints ,I thought that he handled himself well staying calm and on point in a frustrating situation. Maybe that was a mistake,maybe he and Haas should have gone to the press and yelled ,”if it was a Mercedes driver or a Ferrari driver who had protested the qualification would have been stopped and if it was not they would have been given another chance to qualify because of “exceptional conditions” but, since it’s Hass a US team competing in a traditionally non-US event no one listened and no one cared. Its a conspiracy !”
      Grosjean took the high road yet, he get criticized . What does that say about those who criticized him ?

      1. Formula 1, its rules, equipment, teams and drivers, have to deal with rain, heavy rain, that’s part of the sports history and DNA. It’s about dealing with adverse weather conditions. Some of the best races and drives have been in wet weather. So it’s intensely frustrating to see Formula 1 increasingly reluctant to have qualifying sessions or races in the rain when it was perfectly possible in the past. Some drivers spinning off is par for the course. Maybe in this case there was too much rain on the start-finish straight for safety. But there’s already too many compensatory mechanisms in the sport for the less skilled. We need to see less levelling of skill levels, not more. As for Grosjean, I’m completely bemused as to why he should get a free pass after spinning off when others were setting times.

      2. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone so hard on the go pedal. It might be required to do so when its wet.

    14. First of all, they should already get rid of the Parc Fermé rule. What’s that rule even meant to accomplish?

      It makes it so much more difficult for the drivers in wet qualifying if a dry race is expected and vice versa.
      They were running with extrem low-downforce setup on a pretty wet track, what do they expect?

      Also I think Whiting is massively out of his depth. Once more, he missed the call to restart a session and his explanation about the corner cutting back in Mexico was downright ridiculous.

      1. @jon-thereyougo, since you ask, part of the reason for the Parc Ferme rules is because it then gives the FIA the opportunity to check that the cars are actually running in a legal configuration during qualifying. Part of it was also due to the fact that, in the early 2000’s, multiple mechanics were also complaining that they were being overworked due to teams rebuilding the cars overnight between qualifying and the race itself, which resulted in a few instances of mechanics having accidents (thankfully only minor accidents) due to mental impairment from fatigue.

        Anyway, I am fairly sure that, in these circumstances, the Parc Ferme regulations are automatically revoked because of the change in the weather conditions so the teams have the opportunity to change their set up. I suspect that the main reason why most teams continued running a comparatively low downforce setting is because most of them hadn’t brought anything else – most teams had expected both qualifying and the race to take place in dry conditions, so why would you bring anything but a low downforce package?

      2. @jon-thereyougo

        First of all, they should already get rid of the Parc Fermé rule. What’s that rule even meant to accomplish?

        Partly so the mechanics don’t have to be up most of the night rebuilding the cars as they were in the past.

        But mainly to reduce cost’s & prevent the big teams gaining the sort of qualifying advantages that they had in the past when they would have qualifying cars/engines. These were expensive to develop/run due to more exotic & lighter materials been used for 1 hour on Saturday.
        Additionally it was something half the field couldn’t afford to do so it was putting the mid/back of grid teams at a big disadvantage on Saturdays as the bigger teams that already had a performance advantage were able to give themselves an even bigger advantage.

        The parc-ferme rules prevent teams from doing that as they have to race the same spec car that they qualify.

        Also teams are allowed to change suspension settings, ride heights, brake cooling & stuff in the event of a change of climactic conditions. The inters/wet tyres are also larger which raises the ride height further. These were done so that teams don’t have to run a dry setup in the wet if conditions change between Qualifying & the race.

        Once more, he missed the call to restart a session

        I think people are mis-understanding why qualifying was delayed.

        How hard it was/wasn’t raining wasn’t the problem & wasn’t what they were really looking at. The problem was that 90% of the track was perfectly drivable but the freshly resurfaced start/finish straight wasn’t because the newly laid tarmac wasn’t draining or absorbing the water & also had some of the oils used in the tarmac mix coming upto the surface.

        It didn’t matter if it was raining or not, The water was still just sitting on top of the tarmac down 1 part of the circuit on that newly laid tarmac & every driver that was on track at the start was complaining about it.

        Had it not been for that newly laid tarmac there wouldn’t have been a delay because the rest of the track with the old tarmac was fine even in some of the heavier rain.

        1. Grosjean was going much faster than anyone else on the strait, following in tracks from other drivers with little water on them. But the tracks ended well before the chicane, leaving deeper water on the track. Grojean kept his foot on the gas, and the car instantly hydroplaned and crashed … his mistake.

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