Masi was “more than comfortable” with timing of decision to start Q2

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has defended his decision to begin the second part of qualifying yesterday while a recovery crane was still on the circuit.

The vehicle and a group of marshals were completing the removal of Nicholas Latifi’s Williams at turn eight when cars were released from the pits to begin Q2.

Masi said the decision to start the session was made in the expectation the crane would be clear of the scene by the time cars reached the area.

“It was quite close to the barrier, the crane was on its way, and we were given assurances that it would be well and truly clear,” said Masi. “Looking at everything, I was more than comfortable with the local assurances on that basis.

“As I said, with the benefit of hindsight, you would do something different, but based on it all and the available information at the time, that was the call that we made.”

Several drivers criticised the decision to begin the session before the crane had moved to a safe position. Sebastian Vettel said he had “zero tolerance” for the “mistake”.

Masi pointed out drivers were given warnings as they approached the corner where the crane was. “Obviously it was a double yellow flag anyway, regardless, which is normal protocol, even when there aren’t cars on track. And further to that, that sector was extended even further. And it was an out-lap.”

He insisted safety remains the “number one priority” for the FIA.

“From an FIA perspective we review every incident that takes place – be it minor, major, in between or otherwise – at any point in time during a session, outside of session and continually learn from everything that takes place. So from that end we’ll continue to learn, no different to a team learning about different elements over a weekend and in between. We are absolutely no different.

“From our end, as I’ve said many times, safety is our number one priority. And you learn from everything every time a car rolls out a line, every time you look at something different.”

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32 comments on “Masi was “more than comfortable” with timing of decision to start Q2”

  1. Yeh but it was double waved yellows in Japan 2014… Sure it’s relatively low risk but ultimately this situation could have been zero risk. Why take the chance for the sake of saving a minute or two?

    1. Plus this was the most slippy track the drivers had ever encountered be it wet or dry. It was even more dangerous it being an out lap when they would not have built up enough heat in the tyres or even have the confidence to control the cars.

  2. Where did they find this guy that has no sense of self reflection. This time crane, last time stewards on the track but sure everything is as perfect as it could be.

    This guy is a literal accident waiting to happen.

    1. Not to defend his original call, because I don’t think it should have taken this failure of process to realise it, but he has literally said that with the benefit of hindsight he would do it differently.

    2. He is true F1 material. Incompetent but will never admit errors.

    3. He needs benching for a race.
      The least he could have done when it was clear the mistake had been made was to throw a VSC, but no. That would be an admission of a mistake!

  3. I’m not sure how popular this comment might be. But I think drivers are also responsible for their actions. Yes Masi should not have given the green light there but if there is double yellows and you know there is a crane on track you should be extra carefull not to over drive the car even a bit.

    1. Off course they are. I wholly agree with Magnussen commenting that in qualifying drivers should completely back off when there are waved yellows.

    2. With cold conditions and the necessity to keep heat in the tyres the last thing a driver needs is to back off on a warm up lap to try and get a good qualifying lap in.

    3. The Double Yellow Flags is the backup option, the primary method of avoiding a tragic accident was to make the right decision and not release the cars from the pitlane until the crane, its paraphernalia, and the marshals were off the track. The drivers shouldn’t have had to call in to say the crane and marshals were beside the track, so that is an indication all the earlier precaution options failed. Fans shouldn’t have to be expressing outrage over this.
      The renowned simple, easy, and correct option before this Grand prix was to wait for any cranes, such like equipment, and every person to be clear of the track and behind the safety barriers before the pitlane exit was opened.

  4. As I said, with the benefit of hindsight, you would do something different, but based on it all and the available information at the time, that was the call that we made.”

    Well, yeah. That is exactly why we should take safety as a priority and make sure that things cannot go wrong. You know better safe than sorry?

    As @tommy-c mentions, we KNOW that waved yellow flags on a slippery wet track can easily go wrong. So, no Mr. Masi, this was not ok at all. It was a safety risk that was entirely avoidable, for hardly any cost (maybe 2-5 minutes of delay). So it should be avoided. This was far too easy NOT to take the opportunity to avoid it.

    1. The available information at the time? We saw on the TV that the crane was still in the runoff area with marshals all around it!

      1. He means the time the restart was called, I guess. Which was probably a minute or so before? But yeah, that would have been the latest moment to stop the running and postpone @hunocsi. It is really incredibly frustrating to see this level of ignoring what is going on and present it as if everything is fine.

  5. Q2 should only have started once the car and crane were off the track, end of story. They should not have been trying to seamlessly time the release of the cars with the cranes departure from the track. Why did it have to be so close? He had the time between Q1 and Q2 to inform the teams that Q2 may be delayed by 5 mins. To then justify it by saying it was an out-lap, double waved yellows is not an argument. We’ve seen enough cars go off under safety cars, on formation laps, in pitlanes etc to know that an off can happen at any point given the right set of circumstances. The right (unfavourable) set of circumstances usually lead to the tragic accidents. I hope someone in the FIA governance look into Masi for this.

    1. Also on the back of Imola, where any other car could have lost it over the bump Russell did and went straight into those marshals, especially the cars going faster unlapping themselves.

    2. Agree, @f-duct.

      Masi keeps saying that safety is the #1 priority. Then keeps making very poor decisions that jeopardize safety.

      Seems he has lost the respect of drivers and fans, but is still a boardroom fav of Liberty, because the show must go on.

    3. @f-duct I am with you here, ultimately the buck stops with Masi and for him to try and palm off some of the responsibly and decision making is unacceptable. If he had shown contrition and said that this was a clear mistake and that he needed to take more time and be certain then he would look less bad (but still bad). He just seems to have doubled-down and passed the buck onto the drivers to avoid a terrible accident.

      If F1 is run like any other business I suspect the end-of-year performance review would lead to Masi having to reapply for his job at the end of the season.

  6. Obviously it was a double yellow flag anyway, regardless, which is normal protocol, even when there aren’t cars on track. And further to that, that sector was extended even further. And it was an out-lap.

    14 days ago, a very capable driver spun off behind the safety car, in the dry. Trying to warm his tyres in preparation to the green flag. It could’ve happened again, someone trying to get temperature on his tyres in preparation to a crucial phase of Q2…

    It’s like Masi just doesn’t consider the tricky situation with the track’s surface at all. Like, didn’t you watch on friday or FP3? And even before that, what was there to gain?? seconds? That’s the critical part in my opinion, what was pressuring them to start the session before the crane got behind the barrier? If safety is the number one priority, what made them take the risk?

    It’s just unacceptable. That’s the end of it.

    1. 14 days ago, a very capable driver spun off behind the safety car

      and today again in the pitlane..
      The “capable driver part” has some dents..
      But i do agree with your take on the matter..

  7. I’m sorry but this is just silly from Masi.

  8. Safety is not your number 1 priority if you allow yourself to be rushed to make a call like this. If safety was your absolute number one priority, it will overrule anything else, and you would not make decisions based on ‘should be fine’

  9. Really don’t like this guys attitude – literally EVERY time a legitimate safety issue arises, enough of potential risk of harm that a driver has to speak up, its always brushed away and made out as a “I know better than you” thing.

    Like others have said, there’s only so much “benefit of hindsight” you can get away with until someone ends up hurt or dead, and this clown is pushing that luck to the limit…

  10. We don’t trust you at all, Masi.

  11. CourseCorrection
    15th November 2020, 22:07

    Masi has made several questionable and dangerous calls this year. It’s time he was replaced. He’s a out of his element and a complete idiot.

  12. I’m sure safety was also nr 1 when he decided for a standing start and not behind the safety car.

  13. Masi said the decision to start the session was made in the expectation the crane would be clear of the scene by the time cars reached the area.

    You don’t work out the level of risk on expectations, only known/proven facts. Will Massi be one of those clowns who will call a major indecent ‘a Black Swan Event’? Just because he was not thorough enough to do the proper research and due diligence for the sake of expediency?

  14. Anyone who needs hindsight to realize that the same circumstances as the sport’s last fatal accident might be dangerous has no business as the race director.

  15. I’m sorry Michael but you really need to get a grip.

    You say that we, the FIA, learn from everything and that safety is your number one priority, but clearly and most definitely it isn’t.

    There is absolutely no circumstance, zero, none, under which you could justify allowing F1 cars onto a track that still had a recovery vehicle on it ever since the investigation following the death of Jules Bianchi.

    To even suggest that you were comfortable with it is outrageous.

    Here we were on a track that should never have been allowed to even hold the race because it’s surface was redone only two weeks ago watching cars unable to be controlled in the dry and you were comfortable with them on the track at the same time as a crane in the wet???????

    Seriously – I’m ashamed of you as an Aussie and expected much better of you. I’ve no idea why you are so out of your depth but you need to consider resigning and passing the baton to someone who is capable of race direction without making such a simple basic blunder like that one.

    If the FIA really means that safety is its number one priority, they will take that decision out of your hands and replace you. A mistake like that, after the many you’ve already made this year, is just unforgivable, as I’m sure the drivers will point out to the FIA.

    1. 100% agree

  16. Safety first. Oh no, money first, then safety – Michael Massi, Turkey 2020

    As mentioned here, drivers are allowed to interpret the double waved yellows as we’ve seen in qualifying with Magnussen and Stroll behind the safetycar in Imola.
    As long as there is a difference of opinion/interpretation on double waved yellows, there is an absolute safety AND sporting issue!

  17. Masi sends out safety cars at the drop of a hat and now comfortable having a crane on a wet track. Crazy.

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