Safety Car, Hockenheimring, 2019

Standing start call was “in hindsight a very simple decision”

2019 German Grand Prix

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The FIA had no concerns about using Formula 1’s wet weather standing start procedure for the first time at last weekend’s German Grand Prix, according to race director Michael Masi.

Rules allowing the race director to begin the race behind the Safety Car before ordering a standing start were introduced in 2017, but had not been used in F1 until last weekend.

However Masi said they had full confidence the track was safe enough for a standing start despite the heavy rain at the circuit.

“We were judging [the conditions] all the way through up until the 10 minute signal,” he explained. “We sent the Medical Car out to do a few laps as well with Alan van der Merwe driving that. He did a couple of in- and out-laps just to give us his observations on how the track was improving, or was it changing.

“Obviously weather services, everyone putting their hands out to let us know, so it was sort of a mixture of all the information.”

When the formation laps began Masi and the race stewards listened to the radio communications from all the drivers to judge whether they could go ahead with the standing start.

“[We] split the driver radios between us to listen what their feedback was, in general what they thought of the track as it was evolving.

“To be honest, the way it was, it was in hindsight a very simple decision to go for a standing start restart, or to start the race.”

The combination of cars lapping the circuit and a break in the rainfall allowed them to get the standing start done, said Masi.

“When I first went out for my inspection at 2:10 or thereabouts, the track was still quite wet. And we saw after the in/out laps, the roll-around laps, that it had improved.

“Effectively the rain abated, [that] helped us out as well. When you’ve got 21 cars including the safety car going around it helps.

“We saw also from a standing start side of it, it was track conditions, overall level of water, the whole thing comes into the equation. A lot of it’s just instinct to be honest. Gut instinct.”

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14 comments on “Standing start call was “in hindsight a very simple decision””

  1. It was a good decision, I’d like to see more of this please. Let’s make rolling starts the exception.

    “We saw also from a standing start side of it, it was track conditions, overall level of water, the whole thing comes into the equation. A lot of it’s just instinct to be honest. Gut instinct.”

    What seems like instinct is often experience, so good on you, Masi. Still not buying your explanation about the 5k fine for Ferrari, though :)

  2. The rule which came to effect for the first time was something that should have been introduced longer time ago, but no one in the decision-making bodies didn’t seem to find out.

    To be honest, I had this idea in British GP 2016 where a start behind safety car was a weak call. However in that case it had rained after drivers had made their installation laps before going to grid so no one had really good view on the conditions.

    Similar logical but late rule change happened when someone stalled after warm-up lap before actual start – earlier everyone stopped the engines and we waited for five minutes, nowadays drivers go directly to new warm-up lap and the stalled car has been moved to the pits while the rest of the grid returns.

  3. To be honest, when I saw the notification of a Standing Start I was shocked, but in a good way.

    A common sense, good decision in the name of the sport? This isn’t Formula One!

  4. That was a good decision even though it was taken a bit late in my opinion, there were just too many laps behind Maylander.

    But what surprised me most is that even though the drivers knew there would be a high chance of standing start, nobody bothered to take the right hand side line when going on the pit straight in order to dry it out a bit. Those starting on even-numbered grid slots were clearly disadvantaged by the fact that the racing line on the left was considerably dryer and provided better traction when the lights went out.

    1. @gechichan I thought the exact same thing. Racing line had significantly less water.

  5. I think it was a no brainer as these are some the best drivers in the world, I like to think they can handle a little rain.

    1. Give how many spun out during the race…..yeah.

    2. You mean the same drivers that spun out at a simple corner, creating one of the more chaotic race in recent memory?

  6. One question that doesn’t appear to have an answer is did this start procedure result in both Alfa Romeo cars being given 30 second time penalties? If it did, then surely Alfa Romeo deserve at least an apology. I’d go further and say they should have their points given back to them too, but the FIA’s Final Race Classification has already been released, meaning that even if the FIA had grossly blundered there’s little anyone can do.

  7. Except, this wasn’t the first wet standing-start since the alteration of the rules ahead of the 2017 season actually, as, both, the 2017 Chinese and Singapore (more comparable case) GPs were also started on wet/damp track on either intermediate, or full wet, or both, so technically the third.

  8. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    30th July 2019, 13:47

    Standing starts are much better than rolling starts – the only downside I see is the increased disadvantage to drivers starting off the race line.
    With no or little cars driving over those starting spots they are more wet than the racing line, on top of that a lot of water of the racing line is spread on top of the off racing line starting spots.

    1. @jelle-van-der-meer But at the race start, the only cleared line is wherever the drivers went on the formation lap(s), surely? So those off the racing line just need to make sure they drive over their spots (which is half the grid anyhow). Or have I missed something? Unless its a standing start mid-race after the race has been stopped for some reason, of course.

  9. I don’t know why the are so scared of standing starts in wet conditions. With the (big) exception of Spa ’98, I don’t recall any big accident in wet starts. Most of the times, drivers are very cautious, more than in dry conditions. The big risk is if someone spins in front of the group like Coulthard in Spa 98, but these are races.

    1. FIA made the right call by being cautious. If a big accidents happened people will go and complain why weren’t they more cautious.

      As organizers of the event, the FIA have a responsibility to not take chances and err on the side of safety. Certainly worth a few lost laps, not a big deal.

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