Cars on the grid, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Grosjean warns of potential for “carnage” after standing start test

2018 F1 season

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Romain Grosjean warned Formula One’s delayed standing start rules could lead to “carnage” following a test of the procedure at the Circuit de Catalunya today.

F1 introduced new rules last year which allow standing starts to be used when a race has begun behind the Safety Car. But the procedure has not yet been used in a race situation. From this season the procedure may also be used to restart races which have been red-flagged.

Drivers conducted a series of practice starts simulating the procedure at the end of today’s test but Grosjean warned the drop in tyre temperatures caused by the slow running before the start resulted in dangerously low grip levels.

Grosjean said he “didn’t go above fourth gear” on the run towards turn one, where drivers normally reach eighth from a standing start. “It’s un-driveable.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
F1 testing day six in pictures
“I was one of the first guys to come on the grid, I was there with [Valtteri] Bottas a long time. When we restarted it was like it was raining on slicks.

“Every time you up-shift the rear spins, every time you down-shift the rear locks, you go into a corner you slide. It doesn’t work. Safety-wise I’m a bit concerned.”

“To me it could be carnage,” he added. “You could lose the car on a straight line.”

Grosjean predicted that if the rules stay as they are drivers will pit for fresh tyres instead of doing a standing start.

“I’m going to pit every time,” he said. “Everyone’s going to pit. You’re going to lose 25 seconds in a lap to a guy who’s got fresh tyres.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said the procedure will be examined to ensure its safety.

“We did it the first time here, we test the system, it needs to go up the chain now and see what the outcome is,” he said. “That’s why we do these tests.”

“We want to make the sport more interesting, that will make it more interesting because there is things out there which we don’t know. But I don’t know how bad it is, for sure someone will be looking into it, getting videos and starting times and if there’s a big different between the cars, see if it’s actually dangerous or not.”

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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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40 comments on “Grosjean warns of potential for “carnage” after standing start test”

  1. I know Grosjean means this as a warning, but it sounds alright to me…

    I honestly don’t get what is so different between this lap behind the safety car and the normal formation lap. Maybe that the procedure was hampered by the cold(er) temperatures?

    1. He seems to be indicating that under these conditions the grid takes a long time to form up and the used tires lose all their heat. Then they take a long time to get back up to temperature and never come back fully. He says he’d rather go into the pits for fresh hot tires, at the expense of track position. Just having the tires moving during SC keeps a certain amount of heat in them.

    2. the difference is that they are on worn tyres that don’t get up to temperature as well as new tyres. Also in the formation lap tyres are previously heated with the blankets and they get even more temperature on the rubber. In a restart they lose temperature behind the safety car and they stop on the grid. That is why Grosjean says he will pit every single time there is a restart, he gets fresh rubber and everybody will be waiting for him on the grid. Of course as soon as teams realize they will have an advatange stoping they will all do it (expect carnage on the pitlane two, with all teams trying to serve two cars), especially if they want to get rid of undesirable compounds

      1. Not entirely. A race start is preceded by a formation lap, during which the drivers try to keep the temperature up in the tires. Nevertheless, the front runners have to wait at the start for about 45 seconds until the last of the grid have arrived, the green flag is waved and the lights go out.
        Also they will be on the tires they used in Q2. They would not be very worn, but have seen one hot lap so they aren’t new either.
        I just can’t see how a formation lap behind the safety car could impact the tire temperature far worse than the usual formation lap?

        When drivers pit they’ll end up in the very back of the pack.
        Even worse: if they pit in the same lap as the restart they’ll have to wait for the pit exit to open after the last cars got off the grid. So they won’t be able to gain position immediately; by the time they finally reach the back markers their tires will also have heated up.

        1. Yes, probably. Furthermore it can maybe open strategies, leaving one car in front and pitting the other, or keep both on grid to gain positions and hope for the heat to come in the tires before all the pitted cars come back.

        2. I just can’t see how a formation lap behind the safety car could impact the tire temperature far worse than the usual formation lap?

          As the rubber depth goes down due to wear it’s much harder to bring tyres upto temperature let alone maintain them at there operating temperature & the more laps that have been put on them the worse this gets.

          It’s an especially big issue with the Pirelli’s due to the way they design them.

        3. No they don’t need to be on Q2 tyres as this is about a race starting under safety car when its raining so you would need to be on full wet tyres. The tyres will have only done safety car speed laps then the will stop on the grid before a restart on thsoe same tyres. Unless they pit a lap before onto fresh tyres and catch up the safety car the tyres will be much warmer. However those cars will accelerate much faster into a wall of spray and cars slowly getting off the line…

    3. It sounds ok to me as well but if it is too big of an effect so that drivers would pit instead of using the tires they are on sounds very bad. If there is time difference in the tires it must be small enough so that pitting for new tires is not necessary after each safety car period.

      Also if there are safety issues with the uninflated tires then it also needs to be checked. Having a tire blow at 200mph could create massive accidents if it happens in turn 1.

    4. @hahostolze @johnmilk @spoutnik @gt-racer @socksolid

      It sounds good to me, too. Exciting!!

  2. digitalrurouni
    7th March 2018, 19:41

    Funny that it’s Grosjean giving the carnage warning :)

    1. Tru, tru! I guess he got wiser after failing to kill half of the grid.

  3. Another issue is that one side of the grid will be dirty and the other clean depending on the racing line.
    This is going tol be a lottery.

    1. Good point. But as the starting grid is already a lottery the restart one probably wouldn’t change much. It depends of the amount of marbles left in the straight but it’s less than in the corners.

      1. @spoutnik
        I think that’s a logical fallacy. The fact that the chances are already not completely evenly distributed between grid sides at the start of a race doesn’t mean that a potentially catastrophic difference stemming from hundreds of laps’ worth of tyre marbles is basically the same thing.
        A normal standing start isn’t a lottery. Most of the time, no driver gains more than one or two places before reaching the first corner. But with the possibility of a thick layer of marbles, as well as very different stages of tyre wear in different cars, depending on the strategy up to that point, which greatly affects their capability of building up and keeping heat, the result could be a real lottery, with some cars darting off the grid impeccably, while others might experience a getaway similar to a start on slicks on under damp conditions. And that would be questionable both for sporting reasons (as the getaway would be massively influenced by the side of the grid a driver starts on, as well as his tyre strategy) and for safety reasons (imagine a Haas shiftlessly accelerating to 4th gear with massive wheelspin, while the Red Bull driver who was involved in the accident that caused the restart arrives from the back of the grid on brand new tyres, potentially reaching 8th gear – no matter where they respectively start, their ways are bound to cross sooner or later, and their speed differences would be hair-raising, especially when a third car almost inevitably gets involved).

        I agree with those who say that this is the worst idea since the shortl-lived shootout qualifying, and I’d even say it’s far worse than that.

        1. There is no fallacy in what I said. About grid being a lottery I talked about each one grid slot, being on the dirty side is a matter of hundredths between cars and that’s the lottery. It wouldn’t change much on a restart. And we all warned about the marbles, so basically we say the same thing.

          1. @spoutnik
            The fallacy, in my opinion, consists in not only comparing a minor imbalance with an enormous one, but in insinuating that since there’s an imbalance in both scenarios, they’re to be considered equally acceptable.
            I think that’s like comparing Russian roulette to regular roulette. Both games do have the same basic outcomes: You either win or lose. But the crucial difference is: You lose a lot more in the one game than you do in the other.
            Therefore, while taking a normal start at the scheduled time, when marbles are less of an issue, having one side of the grid very slightly disadvantaged is acceptable, whereas taking a standing restart with very different tyre wears and temperatures, as well as a massive disadvantage of one grid side due to large amounts of marbles, is not acceptable.

  4. i remember when grosjean was an assassin behind the wheel

  5. ahh bless him, Grosjean used to be the most dangerous thing in F1 and now he is a safety sally.

    He is right though, everyone will just pit except ferrari with kimi who they always seem to forget about and leave out.

  6. Grosjean complained about wet qualifying last year (Monza I think?) when he was the only one who crashed, so this kind of comment doesn’t surprise me. It’ll be the same for everybody and it’s down to the drivers to control their car – which will make for excellent viewing for us fans.

    I hope this isn’t going to be another year of Grosjean complaining

  7. Can’t say I like the idea of these standing restarts, I just think it’s something that hasn’t been thought through fully & that is been done for completely the wrong reasons.

    For starts later in the race half the grid is going to be disadvantaged due to marbles & other dirt that end up offline over the course of a race. And along those lines tyres covered in marbles/dirt which are also not upto temperature are not going to offer up much grip when half the grid gets down to turn 1. Then there’s the Fresh tyre/Old tyre thing which will likely cause problems & who knows how the tyres are going to react to it given how difficult the Pirelli’s can be sometimes.

    The whole idea smacks of something that has been brought in purely to try & spice things up with no real thought been put into any of the potential downsides.

  8. Hearing it isn’t just Grosjean/Haas, Most of the drivers feel the same & the issue was raised several times in GPDA meetings last year as well as some strategy group meetings.

    The test been done this week was pushed for by the GPDA due to the concerns they raised about it.

  9. What do people think about the standing starts after safety cars?

    Personally I like it but I read that lot of people don’t like it. Some of the issues raised are valid. Like the dirty side of the track being a major disadvantage to anyone who has to start there. Or in rain not starting on the dry racing line. But other than that I like the idea but I’d really like those issues solved.

    1. @socksolid From what I read last year I am quite sure they would not be doing a standing restart if there is a wet track. When the track is wet but race worthy they would be doing a normal rolling restart.

      I wouldn’t at all be surprised as well if, in the case of some tracks developing a dirty side on the start grid from marbles, then they would not do standing restarts at those tracks. I envision there only being a handful of times throughout a season that standing restarts would be used, those being times when it is the safest to do so.

      I’m all for it because I think there will only be a small number of times they’ll do it, and because I think most will pit for tires when there’s a caution anyway, like they often do already, and because sometimes the most excitement a race carries is going into turn one off the grid. A rolling restart is usually just a continuation of the procession that was in play before the caution.

      1. @socksolid @robbie Carnage, unfair jumping of the dirty side cars, tyre warmup issues exaggeration differences between the good and bad cars. Inconsistent use of standing restarts leading to speculation of ‘steering’.

        I can’t see any advantage except a cheap thrill. To me this is a step toward the ‘Americanization’ I’ve been dreading with the new owner. We got the VSC which was on its way to sorting the unfairness of the SC, but now it’s completely the other way for ‘entertainment’.

        1. @balue The concept of standing restarts was brought up, if I recall correctly, before we even knew of Liberty Media taking over F1. So I don’t think it is fair to claim this as the ‘Americanization’ of F1. My impression is that for now this is just an idea being considered, started in the BE era, which is why they did the test for it yesterday.

          Yes there are issues, but my main point with this is that only the worst case scenarios are being presented here, and I just don’t think they will do a standing restart unless the conditions are suitable for it. Eg. If one side of the grid at a given track is full of marbles they simply will just do their normal rolling restart. I also think that often when there is a caution for whatever reason, teams look at it as a free opportunity to pit for new tires without losing a spot, so what would be so different about them doing that and then proceeding to a standing restart rather than a rolling one.

          For me until they get off the aero addiction and we have predictable processions, the first corner action off the start is sometimes the highlight of the day. If once in a while when circumstances present themselves as appropriate they have a second standing restart in the race, I’m fine with that.

          1. @robbie Fair enough if it was decided before Liberty, but it’s still the same effort to ‘spice up’ the show that even Ecclestone was onto.

            And even if marbles is not pronounced on the dirty side, the difference between the sides will inevitably increase during the race from being already biased (some tracks more than others).

            I used to watch Indycar and was properly thrilled with all the yellow flag periods resetting the race, but after a while it became hollow and fake causing me to lose interest completely. I would much rather have a boring race as long as it’s honest and principled, than fakery of any sort. It’s just more satisfying to follow.

          2. @balue Fair comment. I get that. I especially feel that about DRS…standing restarts not so much, perhaps because they’ve always done one very race so what’s one more here or there;)

          3. ‘Every’ race…

        2. I do agree that it is about entertainment. I’m not really against entertainment as long as it is still a sport. Some things in f1 take away the entertainment while others add it. The drs for example takes the entertainment away because it removes the what-if aspect from the racing and overtaking. Can he get pass, can he defend. Just press a button and change positions. No excitement.

          But on the other hand some rules add entertainment. The restarts after safety car periods are usually exciting. It bunches up cars and bring some drivers back into contention who may have had tire issues, turn 1 incidents or spins. But if you add numerous restarts it just becomes boring again. Nascar and indycar have probably like 10s of cautions per race. The excitement of the restart is just meaningless because the result of the restart is meaningless because if there is (and there usually is) another restart then it nullifies the previous restart. And it also makes all the racing before the last caution kind meaningless. In f1 every restart is meaningful because there is extremely high chance that it is the last restart. There are so few of them.

          I don’t know has anyone checked last seasons to see how many times the standing starts would have been used but I’d imagine it is really low number. Of course there is the risk that once the rule is in f1 will seek out more instances where it can (mis)use it.

          And there is also the chance that we see more damaged cars because of it. Standing starts are usually the most dangerous part of the race and it is the time when cars most often times have collisions. Due to the unpredictable nature it is possible that standing starts could breed more caution periods. This can be annoying because people were already complaining on previous seasons that it takes too long for the safety car to come off the track.

          I don’t really mind the entertainment aspect of it but I am kinda weary that once the rule is in it will be abused for short term thrills.

  10. The new standing start system will be more interesting than the older one, so I think it is a good direction. Standing starts are always interesting.

  11. Sounds like instead of the spectacle they were hoping for (“More starts! Everyone loves starts!”) a restart will give us a mostly empty grid like the 2005 US GP, and a dangerous, confusing mess in the pitlane, full of near misses and whining about unsafe releases.

    I think they should allow fresh tyres, but only on the grid, for anyone who wants them (and has a set remaining) – drivers restarting from the pitlane would all be on used tyres, and can bumble and slither away in single file and relative safety.

  12. They want to spice up the racing they need to get rid of pitlane to driver verbal comms. Race engineers have strived to make it boring with perfection.

  13. Jonathan O'Brien
    8th March 2018, 10:12

    So with these standing restarts, if a leading driver is at the back of the pack could they pit for new tyres and start from the pit lane? they affectively wouldn’t loose anything and be on new tyres

  14. joe pineapples
    8th March 2018, 11:09

    So basically a higher chance of first corner incidents than the race start, which will bring the inevitable safety car or red flag out again….rinse, repeat. Sounds less than exiting to me.

    1. Exactly

  15. joe pineapples
    8th March 2018, 11:22

    *exciting :)

  16. What ever happened re changing tyres during red flag periods? I thought they had planned to outlaw it after Monaco ’11 but as far as I can recall, they still do it.

  17. Fair warning from Grosjean there, needs looking into and a decision made before the start of the season! I’m all for standing restarts but not if they’re undriveable!
    Why can’t we have tightly packed rolling (re)starts like indy?

    1. Yeah that’s a good point. Two-wide rolling restarts would certainly be more exciting than the single file continuation of the procession that was occurring before the flag came out, and would also likely mean the leader, who would have the second place car beside him, wouldn’t be able to slow the field to a near stop ahead of the safety car pulling off.

  18. Obviously, standing starts bring a much greater possibility of of crashes, etc. IMO, one standing start to begin a race is a great challenge and tradition.

    However, adding more standing start once a race is under way could lead to all sorts of unfair outcomes: drivers who have been running great races could have their results ruined by 1st turn crashes on the restart, often caused by some idiotic move. If this is FOM’s idea of making racing more exciting, I think they’re heading in the wrong direction.

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