Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Mugello, 2020

F1 drivers write to race director over Mugello restart crash

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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The Grand Prix Drivers Association sent a letter to F1 race director Michael Masi urging him to consider changes in response to the restart crash in the previous race at Mugello.

Four drivers retired from the race in a multi-car crash following a rolling restart at the Tuscan Grand Prix. The stewards blamed 12 drivers – two-thirds of those who took the restart – for contributing to the incident.

Romain Grosjean said he discussed the crash with GPDA representatives Sebastian Vettel and Alexander Wurz, and the group’s lawyer Anastasia Fowle. They want F1 to consider changes to the restart procedure to make similar crashes less likely in future.

“We wrote a letter to Michael Masi trying to find out what we can do better,” said Grosjean. “I don’t think there was anything standing out in Mugello in terms of restarts, it was a lot of small things that led to a big crash at the end.

“But maybe a few tweaks in some of the rules could possibly help and that’s what we want to discuss to avoid such a scary moment.

“I guess we were kind of lucky we ended up with no one being hurt because it was quite a high-speed crash. And also a car flying into the fence where all the people are, it could have been a bit naughty.”

Nicholas Latifi, one of the drivers who retired in the crash and was warned over his involvement in it, said there was little he could have done to avoid it. He believes the positioning of the ‘control line’ – the point at which the race leader can be overtaken following a restart – was a contributing factor.

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“On a track like that the leader was always going to wait as late as possible to go just to avoid slipstreaming. But obviously as it’s such a long run-up, you have all the cars in the midfield pack that are kind of getting a bit antsy, kind of deciding when to go. So it just creates that big concertina effect the further back you are.

“When you’re in the mid-pack to the back of the pack, you can’t actually see when the leader goes. If you could, ideally, you would just pull out to the side and look at the leader and react to him. But you can only just react to the cars in front.

“So there was obviously just some gaps and it caught some people off-guard. Just very unfortunate, I think. There was not really much any of us who were actually involved in the crash could have done to avoid it.”

F1 should consider different restart arrangements for different circuits, said Latifi.

“In previous years it was at the Safety Car Line you were allowed to overtake. The first Safety Car Line is always much further back than the control line.

“So at tracks like that, maybe tracks like Baku, for example, when it’s quite late, maybe that could be something to look at to use those lines as an opportunity as it then just minimises that distance where you kind of have the jostling to and fro of when’s the leader going to go.

“That’s only the only thing I could think of. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a specific zone like in other categories where the leader has to go at a certain point or things like that.”

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32 comments on “F1 drivers write to race director over Mugello restart crash”

  1. Well, Masi doesn’t race, does he? Why should he care if it’s dangerous for the drivers? The main issue I see with this is that the drivers shouldn’t have to lodge a formal complaint, Masi should be spearheading this and asking for feedback.

    1. I’m very much in agreement. Blaming all the drivers is the easiest and laziest approach to problem solving.
      As I said before in a previous post. Two cars had already retired leaving 18 for the restart. If you take away the driver on the restart pole, you are left with 17 drivers. Of those 17 drivers about 5 or 6 could tell the lead car had not left, the others were blind to the action in front. We are not left with 11 or 12 drivers. Virtually all the remaining drivers got a warning. That is sheer stupidity from a supposedly professionally run organisation.
      Now it is the drivers calling for an investigation or further analysis to prevent a future occurrence. Should that be any surprising when their usual safety initiative is to install kerbs that can lift cars over protective fences at high speed.

      1. Three drivers who did not get a warning were Raikkonen, Vettel, and Grosjean. They were all at the back of the line.

        It was everyone from 4th to 15th that we’re warned.

    2. Well, an official letter is certainly a needed, and reasonable answer to the clear punt-to-drivers that Masi delivered. It is strong in that just about any driver that said something about it seems to share their points, both before and after the letter was sent.

    3. I thought he was deeply upset @freelittlebirds and found it offensive when Lewis pointed out the obvious and spoiled it by making the excitement his fault.

  2. I fully appreciate the safety of all drivers.
    This incident was caused by drivers.
    Not where the line is.
    Any & all fault lies with the drivers.

    1. @wildbiker True, it was caused by Kvyat, Russel, Giovinazzi, and arguably Ricciardo, building a gap, then accelerating and braking. But none of them were penalised. Instead, it was a lazy slap on the wrist for two thirds of the field. A pathetic response

    2. You can be like Michael Masi and say it was all the drivers, if you have no understanding of racing drivers.

      But he does of course and so do Liberty whose puppet he is. They knew that preventing the leader escaping before the straight would give the show an exciting bunch start, with everybody trying to second-guess when the guys in front would go, several cars ahead, out of sight.

    3. @wildbiker All incidents are caused by drivers as they are all driving. I’ve never heard of a F1 racing incident while the drivers aren’t driving :-)

      That still doesn’t relieve Race Direction from the responsibility of investigating and improving the safety of restarts. Maybe after investigating they can decide that there is no easy way to resolve this but you can’t outright dismiss it when it was obvious that a serious accident could have taken place there.

      If there was a single driver who had made an egregious mistake then that driver could have been severely penalized but almost all drivers in the rear seemed to have made the same mistake with many of them being quite experienced.

      1. All incidents are caused by drivers as they are all driving

        two already stopped.. “they are all driving” does not compute.

        I’ve never heard of a F1 racing incident while the drivers aren’t driving

        there are lots of F1 incidents during but even before the race.. check your info.

        but almost all drivers in the rear seemed to have made the same mistake

        the drivers in the rear are not “warned” so again wrong..three out of three.. great score @freelittlebirds

  3. Its quite hypocrit of Grosjean to complain about the driving standards of fellow drivers while he himself has questionable driving standards shown this year itself. The 12 drivers involved in this mess are wholly to blame not Masi(for once) and these drivers should ask for lessons from F2 and F3 drivers on how to restart the race.

    1. You’re wrong. Just because Grosjean’s driving is dodgy at times, it doesn’t mean he can’t represent a common voice for the drivers over this as head of the GPDA.

      You’re also wrong that they are solely to blame. The restart procedure has been dangerous for some time, it’s only that now something has happened.

      The review might end up with nothing changing, but for Masi to say we’re not having one strikes as arrogance and a style of management which doesn’t listen to those that ultimately provide him with something to do on a Sunday. To not listen to so many of them is quite frankly, reckless.

      1. “You’re wrong. Just because Grosjean’s driving is dodgy at times, it doesn’t mean he can’t represent a common voice for the drivers over this as head of the GPDA.”

        Grosjean being head of the GPDA is more likly to be an internal joke/meme played on him by the other drivers and he never got the joke and took it seriously.

        also Grosjean ALLWAYS drives dodgy so no idea where you are pulling htis “at times” BS.

        1. Look, I’m no fan of Grosjean either as a driver. I can’t stand his constant moaning, but he has the support of the drivers in his role as GPDA lead and that’s good enough for me… and no it’s not a meme or internal joke.

    2. The 12 drivers involved in this mess are wholly to blame

      Sorry but that’s an utterly senseless conclusion. SC restarts are triggered by the lead driver accelerating to race pace when he wants. There is no other indication that the race has restarted. Other drivers have to wait for his cue, or – and this is the point you and others need to grasp – from other drivers if they can’t see the lead driver clearly or at all. That means that slight accelerations from one driver can inadvertently cause a cascade of increasingly dramatic reactions down the grid, with the last drivers even accelerating to race speed. When this takes place on a huge straight, those acceleration speeds are very high, as we saw. Mercedes (and Red Bull) anticipated this happening at Mugello and asked for the lead driver to be released (allowed to drop back and set the pace) much earlier, before the straight. Masi/FIA REFUSED. Bottas (and Hamilton) insinuated that the reason was that they wanted a show, not safety. Is that plausible? Of course it is. What would Masi and FIA do if that was the case? Deflect blame on to the drivers.

      1. And in addition to that @david-br, there’s the basics: why have a SC, red flag and the like at all? Why have rules, why not just let them race and sort it out in carbon thin lightweight power machines instead?

        Oh, right, safety? Huh.

        So 12 drivers, as the article said 2/3 of the field that was left apparently failed to behave in the proper way, while they usually tend to be quite decent with this sort of thing and there isn’t a need to look at the rules to ensure better procedures. Safety first, not quite then.

        1. @bosyber You have conflicting interests: safety rules and the pressures (self-induced or team-induced) on drivers to gain positions, or at least not lose them, at any restart, or indeed in other situations like yellow flags. The tragedy with Bianchi at Suzuka was caused by a number of factors, but among them were drivers failing to slow down sufficiently. Are we supposed to blame him? Or the fact that race control failed to spot the high chance that another car would go off at the same corner, on the same trajectory, and collide with the truck, itself inappropriately designed, removing the first car? My point is that blame the drivers for being racing drivers, keen to race, as much as you want. FIA has responsibility to ensure safer conditions wherever possible and at Mugello it was possible to allow a safer restart, irrespective of how closely drivers followed the rules. That was Mercedes’ point. Studiously ignored.

        2. @bosyber there have been fans measuring where the safety car lights were switched off in previous races who have noted that the drivers are correct and that, contrary to Masi’s claims, the safety car light are being switched off markedly later around the lap than they were even at the start of the 2020 season.

          Whilst in the past “they usually tend to be quite decent with this sort of thing”, the issue is that there does seem to have been a shift in the way the restart procedure has been organised this season and there has indeed been a trend for the safety car lights to be turned off ever later in the lap.

          1. anon, @david-br yes, I know, and exactly. I feel like I might have been unclear (sarcasm might have crept in, which isn’t easy to discern in today’s internet) – no, clearly the FIA does need to look at how to improve given the facts as they were/are, and that they reprimand 2/3 of the field underlines that the procedure as followed does not work to ensure safety.

            In addition, blaming most of the field rather than showing some introspection isn’t a good look from the FIA and does not inspire confidence that safety comes first, just like it seemed in the case of Bianchi safety wasn’t thought through completely in the interest of letting the race go on. In total, it surely does not show that lessons on how to do better were learned from the substantial report after that sad event.

        3. @bosyber I wasn’t sure in which direction the sarcasm was aiming TBH! So I tried to answer you for both possibilities :) I think Whiting had a more flexible style, allowing drivers some leeway so everyone could adapt. But that does make driver experience a bigger factor in making good decisions.

  4. Latifi is spot on as he pointed out precisely what I’ve also been pointing out concerning the timing and SC1 lines, so I couldn’t agree more with him.

  5. FIA doesn’t seem to yet understand comprehensive Safety Management, let alone accident investigation using tools like ‘fault tree’, event tree’, ‘human factors’.
    Some individuals do as the Jules Bianchi Accident Panel.
    R6 . F1 risk review
    Consideration will be given to a review of F1 risk, in order to ascertain whether there are any significant holes in the safety defences, such that an unforeseen combination of circumstances could result in a serious accident.

    Whereas other (simple) recommendations were addressed; I’ve seen nothing on this or other more difficult actions.

    1. Martin Elliott Yes I think they’re publicly ignoring the need to carry out a proper investigation but as I suspected pressure will be building up behind the scenes for a proper investigation into the incident.
      One thing I must point out, carrying out a thorough risk assessment by calling on suitable subject matter experts and researching the history of relevant incidents virtually eliminate Black swan events (unforeseen circumstances).

  6. Masi’s response will be to continue being offended.

    1. That’s his go to reaction for sure. Maybe F1 should have a chief steward that isn’t so “sensitive”.

  7. Regardless of where the fault lies for the Mugello restart I think it’s perfectly correct for drivers to raise things they feel could be improved & the FIA should be open to listening to those concerns & adopting any solutions which make sense & would help minimise the chance of something similar happening again.

    For the FIA, Fans or anyone else to simply dismiss any criticisms/concerns raised by the drivers because they feel ‘The drivers were to blame’ isn’t the right thing to do, Especially when you have so many of the drivers raising very similar concerns & allegedly having done so before the Mugello race.

    1. I agree. I think it was all the drivers fault, but that doesn’t mean it should just be left alone. The drivers are giving a big signal now. Basically that they can’t be trusted to do the correct thing in this situation so it should be changed. Why not consider it.

  8. Mugello crash still talked about weeks and probably months later…

    1. yeah, quite rightly Dave.

  9. Seems pretty simple to me, cut out all the weaving and brake checking after the safety car lights go out.

    1. The ‘safety’ light was green for the back of the pack! Why was it green when the race had not yet restart? FIA is fully responsible for this crash. They penalize drivers for pitting when a light tells than not to. They hand out penalties for even the slightest of infractions. Does someone have to be killed for these cretins to come down from their ivory tower and commune with their serfs in the cockpits? It would appear that a dead body needs to be extracted from a crumpled race car for them to even consider engaging in an introspective analysis of their god-ordained edicts.

  10. If the driver that was responsible got a stop-and-go penalty, we wouldn’t be here still discussing the Mugello restart.

    Give Russel (and maybe Kvyat) a 10 grid place penalty this weekend and let’s get this over with.

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