Marshal, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Baku race should have been red-flagged – Stroll

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix should have been red-flagged during the final Safety Car period to let marshals clear the track of debris, Williams driver Lance Stroll believes.

“Everywhere there was debris,” said Stroll. “Turn one, turn three, the whole track.”

He compared the situation to last year’s race in Baku which was red-flagged due to debris.

“I expected a red flag. There was way too much debris, they didn’t get the red flag out, I don’t know why.

“I thought it would’ve been better for everyone because the tyres were getting so cold, also. The Safety Car was going so slow so it probably would have made more sense to do like last year.

“Get a red flag, everyone gets new tyres, clear all the debris and we can go racing. Last year we had a very similar situation, the amount of debris on the track, it was clearly a red flag, there was no hesitation. But this time I don’t know why they kept the race going.”

Had the race been red-flagged race control would have had the option of using a standing start to resume it under new rules introduced this year.

The final Safety Car period was extended when Romain Grosjean spun into a barrier and retired. Stroll was running two cars behind him at the time.

“He just seemed to crash,” said Stroll. “I knew it was very difficult and purposefully was very cautious because I knew it was like ice under the Safety Car.”

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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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23 comments on “Baku race should have been red-flagged – Stroll”

  1. Can anyone clarify the rules on when a race can be started post-red flag? I thought it might be red flagged, before seeing that there weren’t many laps left and assuming that the race would simply finish if it was red flagged at that point.

    Is it the race director’s discretion as to whether a race restarts or finishes when close to the end? I remember in Brazil 2003 it was stopped, but Monaco one year (2011?) continued after a big crash stopped the race late on.

    1. @ben-n

      Can anyone clarify the rules on when a race can be started post-red flag? I thought it might be red flagged, before seeing that there weren’t many laps left and assuming that the race would simply finish if it was red flagged at that point.

      There’s no rule preventing this. They could have done a restart with as little as one lap left (though the first lap of the restart would have to be behind the Safety Car so it would therefore arguably be pointless; even so I still think they’d do so out of protocol).

      1. Thanks @keithcollantine – I got confused with the 75% race distance rule around full/half points following a red flag. That’s good to know!

      2. @keithcollantine, is there not still a restriction on the total amount of time that the race can run for that includes time lost due to red flags?

        In the sporting regulations, there is the following statement:
        5.3b) Should the race be suspended (see Article 41) the length of the suspension will be added to this period up to a maximum total race time of four hours.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      1st May 2018, 13:55

      Sky Sports showed a truck with Grosjean’s car on top. Was that on track?

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          1st May 2018, 15:48

          @jerejj wow – have they forgotten what happened to Maria De Villota? Charlie should have red-flagged it instantly.

          Race direction seems oblivious to events happening during the races. Why is there a halo on the cars when we allow trucks to take a car that lost control in that spot? I don’t get that…

          Someone else could lose control, race direction doesn’t know what caused the issue, they need to err on the side of safety and sanity.

          1. @freelittlebirdsI agree re. the red flag, particularly given that the part of the track it was on wasn’t especially wide to begin with.

      1. The marshalls clearing Grosjean’s car (including the truck) seemed to have struggled with it quite a bit to me

  2. I disagree.

    1. I bet Romain Grosjean doesn’t…

      1. @ben-n
        This was certainly a weekend of horrors for Grosjean!
        A red flag would certainly have saved his stock price falling! He better have an amazing race at the next one otherwise he risks falling further. When he came back GP2 and had all those accidents it was great to see him mature and get better, I feel he’s lost a lot of passion recently though.

  3. I had the same thought.

    1. Me too. It was really frustrating seeing all those valuable laps disappear, and they still didn’t clean up the track properly.

  4. Of course had it been red-flagged race control would have had the option of doing a standing restart as per the new rules.

    This would have been an interesting test of Grosjean’s pre-season prediction that in this scenario drivers would pit to put on warmer tyres rather than do a standing start on cool tyres. Note that Vandoorne pitted for fresh tyres at the end of the Safety Car period and it seemed to work out well for him.

    1. @keithcollantine It is a shame they didn’t do a red flag.
      Firstly to do a standing start in anger
      Secondly because of vehicles and marshals on track
      Thirdly for debris cleanup.
      I know we got a thrilling end of the race but we wasted a pile of laps on safety car and in this situation I feel like they should have red flagged and dealt with it properly.

      1. I get the feeling that Charlie Whiting needs to be moved upstairs. Its all going a bit Indy Car / Brian Barnhart circa 2011. He’s becoming more outspoken and seems to change his opinion on a whim, despite there being so much riding on his judgement.

  5. I agree with Stroll. Even a standing restart makes more sense, sporting-wise, than a flying restart on this disgrace of of a track.

  6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    1st May 2018, 13:53

    For sure:-)

  7. I completely agree with Stroll on this. I was shouting at the TV for a red flag, especially after Grosjean crashing and with the truck and marshals everywhere.

    I was having images of Bianchi and couldn’t watch every time they drove near it. I sometimes wonder if the FIA have learnt anything from recent years, or if they are happy to trust the halo will protect as needed.

    Halos don’t protect marshals though. Very disappointed with how it was managed.

  8. I’m sure the next drivers briefing will be long and heated. Slowing on the racing line (or pit entry), agressive first lap moves, driving on two wheels, moving across on the straight, safety cars, double defensive moves (someone will ask even just to wind up Verstappen and Ricciardo), safety cars, vehicles on track, debris on tarck, cold tyes under safety car. As far as I can recall only Sainz, Stroll and Leclerc did not get involved in an issues,

  9. Stroll is totally right (and I bet both Bottas and Grosjean agree).

    I’m still taking this with a grain of salt, considering how much trouble Stroll had at restarts (possibly a tyre heating issue?) and how good he generally is at starts (where he doesn’t have such issues, since drivers are roughly on an equal playing field).

  10. Get a faster Safety Car. A Honda Civic Type R should do the trick! If the little beast can beat the Nurburgring into submission… :) Or is F1 missing a trick by not getting a safety car from GM (Corvette ZR1 in Sebring Orange or Camaro ZL1 1LE) or Ford (GT)? Nice way to pander to the American market.

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