Second restart, Mugello, 2020

Masi dismisses Vettel’s concern over ‘unfair’ standing restarts

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi does not agree the use of standing restarts could be unfair, despite concerns raised by Sebastian Vettel.

Three standing restarts have taken place in the last two races, under rules which were introduced in 2017 but have been little used since. Following last week’s Tuscan Grand Prix Vettel said he is “not a big fan of that rule, because if you’re on the right side of the track it’s a huge advantage.”

The passage of cars during a race cleans the racing line and leaves deposits of small pieces of rubber known as ‘marbles’ off it. This hands an advantage to those who restart on the racing line.

“If you’re on the dirty side of the track, we saw that at Monza already, halfway through the race there’s a lot of marbles off the line,” said Vettel. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

However Masi pointed out the track was cleaned ahead of the restarts at Mugello.

“In both of those cases, certainly after the first race suspension, there was an extensive amount of cleaning with the sweepers that was done down the pit straight.

“So, yes, you could say it’s off the racing line. But it’s no different to any other time, just like the race start itself, with all the other rubbering-in that its head for the rest of the weekend.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

37 comments on “Masi dismisses Vettel’s concern over ‘unfair’ standing restarts”

  1. I agree with Masi here, but it was unfair on Vettel and the others at the back of the pack that Kimi and Grosjean managed to do a whole lap before the formation lap, so their tyres were warmed up… they got lightning starts, specially Grosjean with that damaged car sailed past Vettel on the outside of turn 2. He dropped back because of the damage, but Kimi didn’t, he benefited from that.

    1. yeah, this rule is ridiculous! there was a video with grosjean’s last start, warm tyre advantage was clearly visible

      if they want to do standing starts after red flags, they have to do something with the current “unlap” rules

      1. “At the two minute point any cars between the safety car and the leader, in addition to any cars that had been lapped by the leader at the time the race was suspended, will be allowed to leave the pit lane and complete a further lap, without overtaking, and join the line of cars behind the safety car which left the pit lane when the race was resumed.”

        totally clear that these rules were written for slow rolling restarts behind safety car, not for standing restarts. kimi and grosjean were dead last with one lap behind, with this stu.d unlap rule written for a totally different starting procedure they had a massive unfair advantage

        1. The issue is for some reason they seem unable to sort out a timing system whereby a car can gain a lap back without it physically happening on the track. A reasonably sensible suggestion would be for lapped cars to be overtaken until they reach the point they should be in the pack and the lap counter for those cars be placed back in line with the lead lap to avoid the crazy situation of having to release lapped cars on safety cars. This has been suggested numerous times and yet we’re still stuck with a timing system from the stone age.

          1. Why would they need to gain that lap back anyway? Why shouldn’t they simply start from the back, still a lap down?

          2. The issue then is Pieter, how are you going to handle the restart. Since they are a lap back, would they be forbidden from overtaking during the start? What if another car drops behind them because they have some issue, or a really bad start?
            Would they be shown blue flags from the first corner onwards?

            Especially with a standing start, not having anyone a lap down makes huge sense. And with a rolling start, we had the backmarkers in there in the past, and it would often mean that they were between the leader and the guys chasing them down, thereby giving a buffer for the leader to build up a gap and that took away from the racing since it could take a lap or 2 for everyone to get past those backmarkers

          3. Hold the lapped cars in the pit lane until the other cars have come around and then let them go.

  2. The standing restarts are a bonus for the spectacle, but honestly it doesn’t seem all that fair. What was the rationale for the change anyways? It seems more fair to me for them to have a rolling restart.

    1. @Pedro Andrade Beats me. Rolling start is fairer to all drivers.

    2. What was the rationale for the change anyways?

      I guess the carnage following the initial rolling restart, @pedro-andrade.

    3. It adds more randomness into the race which is clearly Liberty’s roadmap for success. It does in fairness add more action than a rolling restart but it doesn’t sit well with me that a driver can earn a good position on merit for a large portion of the race and then all that advantage be nullified and them slapped on a grid next to someone who sat behind 30s behind them and everything has been reset for something that was likely no fault of their own.

      I think as long as the red flag is not being thrown every other race the rule can stay as one of those fun anomalies that happen on occasion but if they continue throwing the flags as they have done recently then the rule needs to go. I think the original thinking behind them was to spice up street racing as they are historically more prone to red flags and have less in race overtaking.

    4. What was the rationale for the change anyways?

      Purely for the benefit of the show, There was no other reason.

      They feel standing starts are more exciting, Mix things up a bit more & keep cars a bit closer on the restart lap.

    5. I quite enjoy this rule change and am happy that we have gone back to how things were in the 80s and 90s for once.
      What was the rationale for stopping these red flag restarts in the first place?
      Back then they used to lineup on the grid after a red flag rather than the pits too, so no opportunity to clean the dirty side. If anything, the way it’s done now is best of both worlds.

      1. @eurobrun

        What was the rationale for stopping these red flag restarts in the first place?

        Safety & fairness.

        Rolling restarts were seen to be a safer option as later in races with marbles & things off the racing line there was a much greater risk of drivers going for moves into the first few corners & creating additional accidents due to finding they have less grip than expected on cooler tires & a dirtier track. Additionally in races where overtaking is tricky drivers tend to be more likely to go for marginal moves if it may be there only chance to make up places (Something Indycar’s abandoned double file rolling restarts showed can happen).

        And in terms of fairness it was felt that with things like marbles & dirtier tracks later in races it wasn’t fair to have half the grid struggle to get away with that element potentially having a major impact on the race. If a driver had driven a great race & built a big lead it was considered unfair to put him at a disadvantage if P1 was on the dirty part of the circuit. Yes you can sweep the track to clear the marbles but you are still going to have one half of the grid offering up more grip due to having more rubber laid down & less dirt in the surface from cars running over it for many laps.

        And of course in a race with changeable conditions you could end up with part the grid on a wet track & the other part on a dry one.

        1. The issue is actually quite complex with many factors influencing a fair re-start.

          We seem to have already gone back decades to one official picking the rules and how to interpret them. I’m sure Masi consults with the whole senior FIA Technical/Safety/Race Directorate and other statements before making such decisions.

      2. Wasn’t the change from red flag standing restarts because they started using a safety car in the 90’s. Before that a red flag standing restart was the only possibility. I’m not really concerned about whether they use the standing restart or not, but whether they start throwing a lot more red flags.

  3. The second standing start was purely for the show and totally devaluated exceptional drives from the drivers in unfancied cars- while handing a massive advantage to those like Albon who put on fresh rubber and sprinted towards the chequered flag. I think we need parc ferme rules applying to the cars under the red flag because tuning the cars for significantly shorter distance massively distorts the results of the race.

    1. I think we need parc ferme rules applying to the cars under the red flag because tuning the cars for significantly shorter distance massively distorts the results of the race.

      Completely agree!

    2. @pironitheprovocateur I agree that standing restarts should be axed, but I disagree with the part about applying parc ferme rules during red-flag stoppages, or at least as far as tyre changes are concerned. Better to keep on allowing that for two reasons, firstly, so that more sets would more likely be used rather than be left unused, and secondly, on safety grounds especially in the event of a driver having extremely worn tyres and or flat-spotted ones, etc., which wouldn’t benefit anyone nor be fair from the sporting perspective.

      1. No & No.
        F1 is trying to reduce costs, so if tyres are not used, return them to Pirelli, to be re-allocated at another race.

        “Safety” angle is not sufficient, as if a car is under green flag conditions, it would have to pit anyway.
        I believe tyres can only be changed under green flag conditions – period!

      2. I agree with letting them change for a different set of tyres but only those of the same compound should be allowed. There should be a penalty to those who haven’t made a pit stop in the race imo.

        1. I can see logic in doing it that way too @slowmo, although we might have issues with a team/car not actually having any sets of that same compounds left (as often happens with the hard tyres, where they pick only 1 or 2 sets, and one gets used in FP1-2)

          1. They can then change to a different set and serve a drive through penalty when the race restarts. Better to penalise one driver than all the others who stopped previously. Alternatively they can keep their current tyres and pit after the restart without penalty.

        2. @slowmo

          There should be a penalty to those who haven’t made a pit stop in the race imo.

          I don’t see why.

          F1 doesn’t have any mandatory pit stop rule, Just a rule saying they have to run 2 different compounds. Therefore a driver not making a pit stop wouldn’t have broken any rules & shouldn’t be penalised.

          It’s like saying that drivers who stop once when others stop 2-3 times should be penalised for others been disadvantaged due to having to make extra stops.

          1. @roger-ayles they could just add a mandatory pit stop rule instead then although it’s pretty clear what the current rules intention is.

    3. Parc ferme rules do apply under a red flag stoppage. However, the changing of tyres between sessions is permitted under parc ferme


      34.2 Each car will be deemed to be in parc fermé from the time at which it leaves the pit lane for the first time during qualifying practice until the start of the race. Any car which fails to leave the pit lane during qualifying practice will be deemed to be in parc fermé at the end of Q1.
      Between these times, other than when cars are sealed overnight in accordance with 34.4 below, the following work may be carried out:

      c) Wheels, wheel fasteners and tyres may be removed, changed or rebalanced and tyre pressures checked.

    4. I’m not sure if it was fully for entertaiment. I think it they tested it for reverse grids to see how it would work on a race. Of course it had the show element and it messed up the results but now they at least know a little better how it would work out.

  4. I agree with Seb and disagree with Masi. In the long-term, it’d be better to only ever do rolling restarts following a red-flag stoppage (like with an SC-period) rather than a standing one, not only because of a rolling one is fairer to all drivers, but also to minimize an unnecessary increase in overall race time as doing more than a single (the original) standing start makes the races longer in overall time, so considering both of these two aspects, not really a benefit to anyone in the long-term. BTW, I remembered that the idea of bringing this thing back would’ve been proposed in early-2019 or early-2018 during pre-season testing rather than between the 2017 Chinese and Russian GPs.

  5. Just about every report involving Masi starts with ‘Masi dismisses…’ Says all you need to know about how he operates.

    1. When I saw the title of the article, this was my very first thought, too!

    2. I think it says a lot more about the author than the subject – seeing as the author writes it that way.

  6. Completely unfair with the dirty side and the tyre changes. Practically a travesty.

  7. Rolling Start with VSC rules applied at any point from 2/3 through the warm up lap. VSC ends with a warning as usual. Seems sensible to me. Should avoid the carnage we saw at Mugello because GO means GO for everyone, no one is leaving huge gaps to accelerate into in anticipation.
    5 minutes before the restart lapped cars can head off and rejoin the pack in the pitlane no less than 2 minutes before they are all released from the pitlane for a warm up lap.

  8. Why not a restart from the pit lane one at a time (rallye style) , keeping the time difference they had the lap before the race was stopped? It’s what the VSC is supposed to do, keep the distance between cars.

    1. I must add that the restart could also be done from the start line to increase the show value.

  9. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
    21st September 2020, 21:41

    Now, seriously, if there is spectacle, someone will complain. If there isn’t, and the race is boring, someone else will complain. We really need to start to appreciate things a lot more. The red flagged races are so rare that you can’t say they make the sport unfair. The last red flagged race until Monza was in Baku in 2017, so more than 3 years ago. Stop complaining for everything! And the stabding starts are great from my point of view. It is the same for everyone, and the best drivers and engineers in the world should be able to cope with it.

    1. @victorandrei1999 well several of the current teams and drivers have called the red flag procedures unfair now so perhaps there is a point there? I think a number of us are worried that the “rare” red flag races along with full safety cars are becoming more common since Masi took over. If they are going to become more common then they should be as fair as possible to all as there purpose should be to enforce safety, not to randomise the race at a press of a button.

Comments are closed.