FIA “evaluating changes” after marshal near-miss Vettel and Grosjean called “dangerous”

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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The FIA says changes to Formula 1’s race procedures will be considered after footage showed several drivers passing close by a group of marshals during a Safety Car period at Imola on Sunday.

Six drivers – Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicholas Latifi, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll – came close to a group of around three marshals working on or by the edge of the track approaching Acqua Minerale. The six had been released from behind the Safety Car in order to rejoin the same lap as the leading drivers.

Grosjean and Vettel both remarked on the presence of the marshals on their radio, describing the situation as “dangerous”. Video footage of the incident indicated Stroll, the last driver to pass the marshals, did so at a markedly higher speed than the other five.

In a statement received by RaceFans, the FIA indicated Formula 1 race control is considering what response the incident may require.

“The safety of the marshals and trackside officials is of the highest priority for the FIA,” said the sport’s governing body.

“Race control was made aware of the issue and is evaluating whether any changes can be made to the procedures currently in place to further protect the marshals and officials and minimise the likelihood of a reoccurrence in the future.”

A similar incident happened during a Safety Car period at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix. Sergio Perez came close to hitting a pair of marshals after he left the pit lane. The FIA responded by issuing a reminder to marshals not to enter a track without the permission of race control.

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11 comments on “FIA “evaluating changes” after marshal near-miss Vettel and Grosjean called “dangerous””

  1. The bottom line is the race director should make sure the track is clear before allowing cars to be released from direct control of the safety car. Any attempt to blame the drivers for going to fast is is ridicules as I’m sure they are expected to lap the circuit quickly so the race can recommence. It is not unreasonable for the drivers to expect the track to be clear at that point.

    1. exactly this should be the first priority, yes @johnrkh

  2. Good. This clearly was highly dangerous. And we’ve seen several wonky situations and strange things around track.

    Sure, part of it might be that marshalls are a bit out of it too. And we’ve visited tracks where they aren’t all that used to F1 anymore as well.

    But really I think F1 needs to look at the whole procedure around informing teams and drivers (see the Monza pitlane closure thing) the timing and desicions on flags, VSC and SC (the unclear boundaries of when a VSC, then a real SC or not came up at least 3 times this year), and how to end a SC / red flag – Mugello, but also Algarve and clearly Imola and quite a few other things.

    Off course, it might not be easy for Massi to gain as much trust from drivers as Whiting had. But surely they can do far more to make desicions clearer, communicate better and avoid obviously dangerous situations.

    1. Replying to your comment, F1 should take advice on WEC with race direction talking directly to drivers.

      1. yes, that certainly should be part of improving how they do things @jeff1s

  3. simple. max speed of 80 kph for everyone, including the SC, in the sector where the marshalls are during a SC or VSC. any advantages or disadvantages to any competitor due to that speed limit are consequential.

    1. I think that could easily cause cold tyres during the period. Russell and Grosjean have shown that cold tyres appear to be more damaging than we thought. Hamilton consistently complains about the safety car’s speed. I think they should just red flag the session if marshalls are on track if they want to completely ensure everyone’s safety. Stroll also just hit a mechanic in the pitlane due to cold brakes.

  4. The change that needs to be made is that Masi is relieved of his duties. How many of these things do we need to see?

    Lapped cars should not be allowed to overtake until the track is clear. It’s not hard with cameras around the whole track available to the race director.

    Sorry, I’ve really had enough of Masi. We’re going to see someone hurt soon.

    1. Agree with John H, Masi is not doing his job well. While drivers cannot be blames, neither marshalls should be seen as doing something wrong, when it is exactly the point waiting for marshalls to clear the track in order for the race to continue. So Masi should regulate these moments, that is why he is called Race Director….; he needs firmly to direct and not watch the race.
      This year Masi has already shown he lacks competency and decisiveness.

    2. I’ve never understood why the lapped cars have to overtake – surely they could just drop to the back of the queue. it would be quicker and they wouldn’t have to race round to catch back up. or we could just leave them where they are like in the past. if the safety car is really there to control the cars, why does it let a bunch of backmarkers through before picking up the leader – if it’s really doing a safety job, all cars should line up behind it regardless of where they are in the race. it would probably be a bit chaotic at the restart (the first car would in all likelihood not be the leader) but sometimes a bit of chaos is no bad thing.

  5. Two comments:
    1. Weren’t the marshals in a zone of double-yellow flags? Rule book says “prepare to stop”, so…. no excuse to be speeding under SC period and in a zone where marshals are working near or on the track.
    2. This way of cars unlapping themselves is a waste of time: they should instead let the cars one lap ahead pass while following the SC.

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