FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has explained why the two similar, high-speed crashes in today’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix prompted different response from race control.Max Verstappen‘s spin into the barriers on lap 46 led to the race being stopped and restarted. However Lance Stroll’s similar crash approaching the same section of track 15 laps earlier was covered using a Safety Car.
Masi said there was sufficient time to clear Stroll’s crash scene during the race. There were 20 laps of the race remaining after he crashed.
“Obviously, in the middle of the race, there was more than enough time, and space on the right-hand side of the track when we were recovering it. We were confident with the way that could be cleaned up in that fashion.”
However Verstappen’s crash occured with only five laps remaining, and Masi explained he wanted to create an opportunity to finish the race under green flag running.
“Looking at everything we weren’t confident that the recovery on the pit straight and the amount of debris that was everywhere could be cleaned up in the appropriate time,” said Masi. “So I thought it was in the best interests of the sport to suspend and then restart in that circumstance.”
Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley was heard speaking to Masi over the radio during the broadcast, suggesting the race be red-flagged.
“To be fair, it was actually already on my mind,” said Masi. “But obviously from the perspective of what we communicate, we communicate to everyone equally and looking with the number of laps that we had to go, the recovery that was being undertaken and the fact that there was so much debris on the pit straight at that point, it was in my opinion, in my judgement, the best option to suspend the race, clean everything up and then have a race finish.”
Following Verstappen’s crash the race could have been concluded, but Masi said there was “no reason not to” restart it.
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