Safety Car, Mugello, 2020

F1’s attempts to create exciting restarts are increasing risk to drivers – Hamilton

2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Lewis Hamilton said late decisions to restart races are putting drivers at risk, after a major crash which forced today’s Tuscan Grand Prix to be stopped.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi were all eliminated in the crash during a rolling restart on lap eight of the race.

The queue of cars was being controlled by Valtteri Bottas, the race leader, at the time. Hamilton, who was running second behind his team mate during the restart, said Bottas was not responsible for the crash.

“It’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all,” said Hamilton. “It’s the decision makers.

“They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen it put people at risk. So perhaps they need to rethink that.”

Hamilton said the late decision to trigger the restart by calling the Safety Car into the pits, at which point its lights are switched off, contributed to the crash.

“They’ve been switching off the Safety Car lights later and later,” he said. “We’re out there fighting for position. Especially when you earn a position, like Valtteri earned the position of being in the lead.

“Obviously they are trying to make it more exciting, but today was probably a little bit over the limit, perhaps. But he did exactly what anyone would do.”

Alexander Albon, who was running further behind in the queue, said the way Bottas managed the restart was predictable given its timing.

“I think when you put the control lines so far in front and then also leave the [Safety Car] lights so late, it’s pretty obvious where Valtteri is going to take off,” said Albon. “He’s going to take off as late as he can.”

“The top five were almost doing like a double formation start because we were all just waiting for the take-off,” said Albon. “So it is dangerous. I think tracks like this are always going to be difficult as well with long straights but definitely something could have been done better.”

Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes raised concerns with race control over recent late decisions to bring the Safety Car in.

“I think our team opened up the discussion again this morning before the race saying that it’s a bit of a concern here,” he said. “But they said basically they’re going to keep doing it because it’s better for the show. I think that was the reply.”

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2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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13 comments on “F1’s attempts to create exciting restarts are increasing risk to drivers – Hamilton”

  1. Allow overtaking from SC1 again, and go back to doing rolling re-starts following a red-flag stoppage as well, not only an SC-period. These are merely suggestions that might help the situation.

    1. @jerejj my thoughts exactly

    2. Agree with overtaking from SC1.
      Disagree with rolling restarts after a red.
      I always preferred a proper grid restart thru the 80s and 90s.

  2. Red flag restarts are great. How boring would this race have been without safety cars and red flags bunching the field up.

    These are the best drivers in the world everyone just has to be better at restarts. Also better at seeing signs and lights such as when the pitlane is closed, etc.

    1. János (@meandthewanderlust)
      13th September 2020, 23:35

      +1

  3. I am not sure that any rules need to be changed here since there have been several restarts like this that have not been a problem. Common sense just went out the window.

    It looked like the issue here is that someone (I couldn’t tell who) bolted way too early at the back meaning others behind would instinctly follow and as it was too early a crash was inevitable by running into slower cars in front.

    If we must do something to change the rules rather than rely on common sense then do a full-on rolling start (like an Indy Car race start) with all the cars in formation with a red to green light indicating to go.

    1. I’m believing Bottas, Hamilton and the Mercedes F1 team personally. If they delay turning out the SC lights that means the front cars can’t get away through a corner and means a bunch start, doesn’t it.

      But now Lewis has said something, they might not dare keep doing it.

  4. I like the red flag restarts.

    Main thing from the last couple of races though is that I think this was initially envisaged as something for wet races that then dry out enough to get a grid start – when it’s entirely dry I think Vettel’s point about one half of the grid being disadvantaged due to marbles and the other side being the one that gets all the rubber laid down etc. being fair.

    Given the amount of time they spend footering about on these red flag delays, they should at least sweep the grid of marbles.

  5. It’s not the rules, it’s the drivers that messed up.
    Neither is it bottas.

    Single file, would be an idea for race control to demand on risky high speed section like this.
    But shouldn’t be a fixed situation.

    An indy style restart could also be done in risky situations, also up to race control as it’s circuit depending.

    A rule that would make more excitement and not to risky is the removal of blue flags.

  6. I absolutely agree with Hamilton. Although I’m a fan of unpredictable results, they have to be substantiated by a strong form on the given weekend (like Sainz or Gasly last week), not by a blind coincidence fuelled by race directors. It almost feels like F1’s trying to artificially recreate the spirit of Monza by pushing the limits of what’s to be done in exceptional situations – sure, the red flag after the finish straight carnage was necessary, but the strange signalization from the safety car as well as the late red flag with yet another standing start felt all like efforts to spice things up – and the late sprint probably robbed us of Ricciardo on the podium as well as Russell’s first points. Kind of a shot into F1’s own leg.

  7. Rolling restart procedure could be improved upon.

    Why can other series line up cars and all accalerate after lights turn green?

    This bunching up the pack almost never leads to a good fight for first place.

    1. @jureo I agree that a green light signal for a rolling restart would be better than the leader controlling it

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