Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Late race restart was genuine attempt to achieve green flag running – Masi

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has denied claims the Belgian Grand Prix was only restarted behind the Safety Car to ensure points would be awarded.

Just a single official lap of running was completed behind the Safety Car in three hours after the scheduled start time due to heavy rain. Points cannot be awarded for an F1 race unless at least two laps are completed.

The field was sent back onto the track behind the Safety Car but were called back in after just two laps. This prompted claims from Lewis Hamilton and others than F1 had tried to do the bear minimum running necessary to ensure points could be awarded for the race.

However Masi said the field was sent out because the FIA saw a potential improvement in the weather and were hoping to begin the race.

“It was to see what the conditions were like,” he told Sky. “We’re in constant contact with our official weather [forecast] provider. There was a window that looked like it was provided there.

“We’ve got a requirement to give a 10-minute warning to everyone so it was like ‘okay, let’s try and see if we can find that window’. And a number of teams had said the same thing, they saw that window and could see exactly what we were trying to do to find that weather window. And then the weather came in and got the better of us again.”

Postponing the race until Monday is not an option for logistical reasons, Masi confirmed, due to the number of people necessary to hold an event.

“There’s no ability to postpone the race until tomorrow,” he said. “Obviously from the FIA perspective, and jointly with Formula 1, safety is paramount for drivers, the teams and all of the spectators.

“We gave every available opportunity within the rule book, within the provision of the international sporting code, to give us the best opportunity to be able to complete a race. And so unfortunately on this occasion we could not go the full distance that was available.

“But with the provisions in the [International Sporting Code] to stop the clock, that was what we tried to do to see if we could get ourselves in that weather window of some activity.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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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...

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71 comments on “Late race restart was genuine attempt to achieve green flag running – Masi”

    1. A priceless reaction.

  1. It’s pointless splitting hairs over this. On the balance, I just about believe him, and the Force Majeure extension of the race time pleads in his favour.
    But nothing excuses the fact that the best circumstances were at the actual start of the race, which was abandoned way too easily. They never even tried, just hoped for better weather which never came.

    1. Agree @hahostolze. There is a difference between suspending the race because there is better weather to come in which it will be more appropriate to run, and suspending it just in the vague hope that something works out.

    2. Davethechicken
      29th August 2021, 19:37

      If you had spent €500 on a ticket you may have a different point of view.

      1. I’m not sure how the attendance changes anything. Do explain.

        1. Davethechicken
          29th August 2021, 20:10

          Tickets for gold area around €500, if you paid for one or two of those, you would likely expect to see what you paid for, or be entitled to a refund.
          The whole debate here is the race result has been declared despite there not being one any opportunity for the drivers to race. Masi saying it was a genuine attempt to race, Hamilton and others claiming other motives were the real reason.
          If you paid a small fortune to watch 2 laps behind a safety car you might feel differently. Most F1 fans want value for their money and support, even if their favourite doesn’t win.

    3. @hahostolze Most drivers said it was too wet to race both times they went out. It seems to me that their opinion is more important than the FIA’s or fans watching from home.

      1. @undercut677 indeed most drivers stated it was the right call as they returned to the pits.

    4. Coventry Climax
      29th August 2021, 23:36

      Long time ago, there was a satirical program series on the Dutch television, called Farce Majeur. And that, to me, is more to the point than calling it Force Majeur.
      For me, in reaction to Masi’s words, there’s just one word. Liar.

  2. That is not true, it was never genuine

    1. Indeed. Hamilton said they knew beforehand they’d get the 2 laps in and then end the race. Masi is calling Hamilton the liar here. But it’s him who is lying.

      1. He is lying. He is mad because he lost some of his lead. Of course he is lying.

  3. Didn’t occur to him to cancel/postpone it until later in the season, obviously. Shocking. Liberty was undoubtedly calling him the whole time – “find a window to fit in 2 laps, this is gonna be expensive!”

    1. @nanotech finding a gap in the calendar, in Spa’s schedule and indeed in the far worse Belgian autumn for one race without weekend around it? Good one.

      1. Y’know, canceling a race that can’t be run isn’t the end of the world, unless you have a public stock listing and a promoter about to be screwed out of millions. Agreed Masi can’t arbitrarily decide to postpone, but if this was about pure safety, they’d have either started the race on time, or canceled it. The 2 lap charade to pay out Liberty and screw over all ticketholders is just embarrassing. The blowback will be hard, I suspect.

      2. @hahostolze I couldn’t agree more with you. Spa-Francorchamps in late autumn is too cold for F1 and risky weather-wise in general.

    2. Masi is the race director. His job is to run the race. He cannot decide the race calendar at the spur of a moment.

      1. Coventry Climax
        29th August 2021, 23:40

        Correction: He is said to be the race director, and his job should be to run the race.

  4. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    29th August 2021, 19:09

    They should have attempted the race at the start and if they made it the first few laps they may have been able to figure out how to drive the circuit but ever since 2014 Japan we always walk on eggshells whenever we have rain at the start of a GP.

    1. @canadianjosh

      ever since pirelli has been around there has been a ridiculous amount of safety car starts and red flags.

      1. Coventry Climax
        29th August 2021, 23:48

        Actually, Todt was elected in 2009, and in 2011 Pirelli became the sole tyre supplier. I’d say it’s been going down since Todt, being responsible for Pirelli’s contract as well.

    2. The start would have been the most dangerous part of it after a handful of drivers have ended up in the hospital recently at Spa in better weatger than today. And yes, the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix is a good indicator of what can happen when you don’t put safety first.

      1. I think it’s been 30 and more years, before japan 2014, that a driver hadn’t died because of wet conditions…

        1. @esploratore How many drivers have ended up in the hospital or died at Spa in the last 2 years? What about the last 2 weeks? The track matters and these conditions might be ok for hungary but not Spa. We cannot praise Vettel for asking to red flag qualy yesterday but complain that they didn’t race side by side in worse conditions. It makes no sense.

  5. Then why did you not at least proceed behind the SC to try and clear some water/ hope for improvement OR refreeze the newly abitrary time-limit after the red flag to maintain the slimmest chance of a race happening?
    the Farce is not that no race happened, the Farce is that you try and tell us there is a result anyways.
    i feel very much insulted by this. way worse than indy. get your hat, it is just one poor choice after the next.

    1. Yesterday’s qually was more difficult than most races. Half points is absolutely fair.

    2. Engines, tyres, and especially the brakes were getting much too cold during the running after being kept heated up by blankets and such in the pits, and they were trying their hardest to get them heated up behind the safety car – it was just much too slow. And cold brakes and tyres are the last thing you’d want in a rainy race, where safety is paramount.

  6. As soon as they were back on track, there was an FIA on-screen notification that 2 laps were needed to have an official race and award half points. So I’m calling shenanigans. They never thought they’d get to racing.

  7. CD (@clipperdael)
    29th August 2021, 19:15

    The field was sent back onto the track behind the Safety Car but were called back in after just two laps. This prompted claims from Lewis Hamilton and others than F1 had tried to do the bear minimum running necessary to ensure points could be awarded for the race.

    Can someone explain how this makes the race eligible for championship points? The race ended with a red flag, didn’t it, as in, they didn’t wave the chequered flag but threw out the reds, halted the race and then never restarted it. So doesn’t that mean that the final result, according to red flag rules, is the result from two laps before the red flag was shown?

    The red flag was waved on lap 3, so the official result should be the standings at the end of lap 1? Which is less than the two laps that a race needs to run for championship points?

    1. Oskari Kantonen
      29th August 2021, 19:22

      According to FIA on Facebook they are calculating results according to Sporting Regulations 51.14 (results after lap 1) and the points scoring based on article 6.5 (leader passing control line 3 times making for over 2 laps of “racing”)

      1. CD (@clipperdael)
        29th August 2021, 19:31

        Right, thanks. I suppose I haven’t yet mastered the FIA’s level of 3D chess!

    2. this is actually a very good point

  8. Stupid question: why don’t they go to Spa after Interlagos but before Saudia Arabia? F1 could foot the bill for the organizers, take a loss but at least insure a race for the fans. Can this be done or is is too cold in November?

    1. @fw11b
      Aside from the obvious (there may be an event on at that date), Michael Masi is the race director. He doesn’t choose the dates that they race, his job is just to make sure the race happens safely.

      The only thing he could do was cancel the race.

      Reply moderated
    2. Way too cold in November. The weather has a good chance of being the same or worse as well.

    1. This has left me enraged to death.

  9. Surely worth another lap or two behind the SC to see if the track could be cleared, this “3 hour” rule is also BS as it limits the chances of getting the race done later in the day, there was plenty of daylight left.

  10. Hardly doubt it, Masi. He said on the radio veeery very early on that the idea was to do a couple of laps under safety to award points.

    Oh Charlie how we miss you

  11. For me the fact that he stopped the countdown makes this credible. He was under no obligation to extend the window I’m which the race could take place.

    If it were truly just about getting a result, they’d have done the two laps at first opportunity at 15.00 and been done with it.

    Shame we didn’t get a proper race, but these things happen.

    1. If it were truly just about getting a result, they’d have done the two laps at first opportunity at 15.00 and been done with it.

      You can’t quite do that anymore, because where a race starts behind the SC the laps count as extra formation laps rather than racing laps (hence all the tedious back-and-forth about whether the race had indeed started during the long delay). In order to get the laps to count, you either need to withdraw the SC and get the racing underway, or red flag the session and then restart as per the red flag procedure (which is what they did in the F3 race yesterday and, eventually, in today’s event).

      Red flagging the race after an SC start and then immediately restarting the race under safety car conditions would probably be a little too contrived even for Liberty.

    2. Correct, stopping the clock debunks all of these conspiracy theories about them always knowing the race would not go on.

    3. Stopping the countdown was Masi being Masi – i.e. very low regard for safety and looking for entertainment. Masi, in my opinion, from the outset was trying to go maximize the number of racing laps. Hence, he stopped the ‘first start’ after just 1 lap. He stopped the countdown to allow for racing laps further in the evening, although it was clear that reduced light would be a problem in the evening.

      The ‘second start’ – from Masi’s perspective – was once again a chance to get racing laps (At the risk of drivers’ safety!!). Liberty was more than happy to let Masi do that as it fulfilled their commercial obligations of providing a race.

  12. Some people say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
    So, being unlucky might mean that your lack of competence meets a circunstance in which this become evident.
    Masi is probably the unluckiest person ever to be race director.
    Everything that could go wrong in a F1 race if not handled by competent people seems to be happening under Masi direction.

  13. “I’m a lying liar that lies.” – Not Michael Masi.

    1. Take a look at these unacceptable incidents and untrustable lies:
      – Monaco 2019: How close were the marshals to the cars?… (Too close.)
      – Mugello 2020: How dangerous were these crashes? (He might have done a fair decision on this one, so I’m unsure.)
      – Imola 2020: …and again at Imola? (Yep.)
      – Turkey 2020 qualifying: Was the crane still on the track at that moment Masi restarted qualifying? (Yes, VERY DANGEROUS.)
      – Bahrain 2020: Did the marshal really act on instinct crossing the track? (It was dangerous. 100%.)
      – Imola 2021: How long did it took when calling the penalty for Vettel? (Too late, according to Vettel HIMSELF.)
      – F2 Monaco 2021: Was an explanation from Masi regarding Deledda really necessary? (Leave it to Rob, FGS!)
      – Baku 2021: Which flag was ignored when Stroll’s tyre blew? (Red Flag.)
      – Styria 2021: Is tyre clipping nothing that should be dealt with? (It should have been investigated.)
      – Before Belgium 2021: Is Spa-Francorchamps still safe enough? (There’s still a bit of danger.)
      – Belgium 2021 qualifying: Which flag was ignored again when Norris crashed at Eau Rouge? (Red Flag.)
      – Belgium 2021 race: Should points have been awarded, or not? (Points shouldn’t have been handed out.)

      I’ll never forget how he handled it poorly on June 6th, 2021.

  14. I have two reactions to this shambolic event.

    First, it makes no sense to award points if there was no actual racing. The rules should be amended so that full or half points are awarded based on the number of actual racing laps completed, with safety car laps not counted.

    Second, there are too many overlapping and potentially conflicting regulatory regimes here. The level of confusion about race length, Perez’s participation, non-compliant wing changes, and so forth was crazy – and none of these circumstances was particularly hard to anticipate. All of the interested parties (FIA, F1, GPDA, etc.) need to sit down for a week and war-game (“pressure test”) the rules by role-playing a set of scenarios, then revise and clarify the rules.

    Reply moderated
  15. Yeah, with advent of public radio, I believe him. He sounds genuine.

    Genuinly out of his depth, also seems races are lead by commite, stewards, FOM, teams influencing his decisions, drivers, chipping in.

    Was it always like that and we only now get to hear it?

    But in short all this transperency is good, they were genuinly stuck with a series of tough decissions, bolstered by Formula W and Quali crashes.

    Final solution was quite incompetent. Also genuine, and a mess.

  16. Just an advice for Masi next time to have a real race in a long track like Spa: remember that there’s 3 sectors; VSC in sector 1 after La Source; green for the rest of the track. Better think before this farce.

  17. Again I hear untrustable lies from Masi. These unacceptable incidents just come to mind every time he lies. His time’s over.

    1. I am pretty sure this “Dave” guy is Lewis Hamilton.

      1. lmao you don’t know me

        1. and that’s because I don’t know Hamilton.

          1. and bye bye.

          2. And you know what? You think I’m Lewis? P— off now. You will never know who Lewis’ personality is…ever. Michael Masi is selling us out to the Grim Reaper and this is a motion of no confidence. His time’s over and he should be dismissed for every dangerous incident he has ever done.

  18. In my opinion ,they get paid to race , as soon as the race starts ,they can enter the pits and retire if they can’t cope ,

    Reply moderated
  19. It was pouring and forecast to rain more. Masi should tell the truth. After the w series pile up, Norris’ yard sale, the aitken GT crash, the death of Hubert and serious injuries to Correa, “not on my watch.” Yea drivers are paid to take risks. But the sport would be in some straits if they green flagged in that monsoon and there was a tragedy or even just a Big One taking out half the field.

    I’m actually not mad about the points. There should be some reward for the work put in from practice to qualifying. Half seems a windfall for some a robbery for others but it can’t be calibrated any other way. My view is of course influenced by the fact I didn’t buy a ticket and watch on ESPN without paying a la carte.

  20. trevor williams
    29th August 2021, 20:33

    No consideration for the fans who paid unless they get their money back

    Reply moderated
  21. @dmw But there was no need to have a green flag all around the track. All FIA series have the ability to put yellow flags alongside yellow/striped flags in areas where it is deemed to slippery, either due to water or other liquids. They can do that for a few laps until the track dries a bit and the cars are spread out more. But under Whiting and now Masi, entire generations of drivers have been taught that yellow flags are effectively meaningless and can be ignored so F1 cannot actually use yellow flags as they are intended to be used. That leaves only the safety car or stopping the session.

  22. It’s 2021. The race should be completed on simulators.

  23. If it was genuine they would have at least tried to stay out more than those 3 laps.
    Guess what, 3 laps what the exact lenght they needed to assign half points & not refund the spectators.

  24. Ok, what seems like the biggest issue to me, if we leave out enraged comments about the willingness or rather non-willingness to compensate the fans, is Masi’s approach and his knee-jerk reactions in situations like this. Ever since he’s been the race director, the number of red flags has skyrocketed – ever since the last year’s Italian Grand Prix. A great commercial opportunity, as the Liberty goblins surely have realized, but also a testimonial on Masi’s false conviction of personal importance and responsibility. His interpretation of rules is all over the place and always relies on opportunism of the situation. The standing start at the end of Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a great example, and not the only one. What he could have done was to allow some continuous running, and don’t start me on the danger of the situation – anyone who remembers Fuji 2007 knows it is possible. But Mr Masi, in his pursuit of the status of an omnipotent ruler of F1 races, allows for no such dissent. He has to demonstrate he’s in absolute control.

  25. Unpopular opinion but I think Mask ultimately did what he had to do: make sure F1 cars weren’t running at full speed in these conditions. Green flagging this race would have been ridiculously dangerous on Pirelli tyres and with zero visibility.
    The people I am really mad at is the people over at Liberty: screwing the fans out of a refund

  26. I think that it is time for Masi to be re-evaluated as a race director for a category such as Formula 1. Ever since he took over from CW there’s been quite a few very questionable decisions coming from his booth, with this Saturday being the icing on the cake and the no-race being the absolute cherry on top of it. I don’t think he is fit enough to make the right calls when they are needed.

    Yes, no one can argue that putting the drivers out there to race would be an insane decision, but you don’t need 2 mechanical engineering degrees to know that there was absolutely no need to wait 3 to 5 hours to make the cal he made. At any point the track and the sky shown any cnditions for the race to be held. So why the wait? Yes, some fans would be disappointed, some would be angry, but if there is one thing that fans deseve is that their time is worth what they are watching, and that was surely NOT the case of Sundays no-race.

    Reply moderated
  27. Masi is completely out of his depth, Charlie Whiting he definitely ain’t. Farcical decisions, lamentable comments, in so far over his head.
    Get rid now I say.

    Reply moderated
    1. All these unacceptable incidents, never forgotten.
      – Monaco 2019: Marshals too close to the cars.
      – Mugello 2020: Too many red flags and standing restarts. For Stroll’s crash.
      – Imola 2020: And again, marshals dangerously close to the cars.
      – Turkey 2020: Crane still out on track when Masi restarted qualifying.
      – Bahrain 2020: Marshal dangerously crossing the track, then he said it was on instinct.
      – Imola 2021: Vettel saying delayed penalty call “not cool”.
      – F2 Monaco 2021: He’s not F2’s race director, but come on, was that explanation really necessary?
      – Baku 2021: No red flags when Stroll’s tyre blew, and was too late for red flags after Verstappen’s tyre blew.
      – Styria 2021: Deciding not to investigate the Leclerc-Gasly tyre clipping.
      – Belgium 2021: No red flags before Norris crashed at Eau Rouge during qualifying.

      Dismiss Masi now. He’s a traitor and he betrayed the sport. His time’s over. This is clearly a motion of no confidence. Once he’s dismissed or he resigns, he’s out of the spotlight.

  28. Michael Masi Is A Traitor.

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