Safety Car, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021

F1 race director followed the rules at Monza, unlike in Abu Dhabi – Wolff

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is pleased the FIA followed its Safety Car rules correctly at the end of the Italian Grand Prix, following the controversial conclusion to last year’s world championship.

Lewis Hamilton lost the 2021 drivers championship when he was passed by Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season. Verstappen was able to make the pass after the FIA F1 race director Michael Masi organised a final lap restart in violation of the rules.

Masi, who lost his job over the controversy, was accused by some of breaking the rules to arrange the restart in order to create a more dramatic finish to the race.

Today’s race at Monza finished behind the Safety Car as an operation to move Daniel Ricciardo’s stricken McLaren out of the way took longer than expected. Wolff praised race director Niels Wittich for following the rules correctly and ending the race behind the Safety Car.

“I’m really satisfied to see that there is a race director and colleagues that apply the regs against the pressure of the media and the pressure of the fans and everybody to just be in breach of the regulations,” he said. “At least Abu Dhabi, in that sense, gave the FIA more robust confidence to apply the regulations.”

Wolff said there can be no doubt the FIA’s Safety Car procedure was followed correctly. “It’s very clear,” he said. “There is rules and they are written down. And from my perspective, whether I am Abu Dhabi, traumatised or not, these rules have been followed to the dot today.

“There was a car on track, there was marshals and a crane out there. That’s why they didn’t let anybody overtake. And then there was not enough time to restart the race once all the cars caught up.”

Race start, Monza, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Italian Grand Prix in pictures

However Wolff said he would not be against changing the rules to give the race director more flexibility to avoid concluding grands prix behind the Safety Car.

“If one is not happy with the regulations and you want to have a big bang show and two laps of racing and mayhem, I’m absolutely up for it,” he said. “But they need to change the regulations. So I don’t think we should complain about anything that happened because this is the rules.”

Wolff believes it wouldn’t be difficult to alter the rules in that way. “I think we need to say ‘do we want to have a race finishing under green?’ And then reverse-engineer it from there.

“So you can say ‘five or ten laps to the end, if we have a Safety Car, let’s red-flag it and make sure that we are racing at the end’. If that’s in the regs, good. But I think there’s much more clever people, the sporting directors, that would have some ideas.”

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2022 Italian 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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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39 comments on “F1 race director followed the rules at Monza, unlike in Abu Dhabi – Wolff”

  1. He’s right about rules getting followed, unlike in Abu Dhabi.
    However, I disagree with him on effectively making different rules for the last 5-10 laps in any given race.

    1. Extend the race for each number of laps behind the SC. Still a risk of finishing behind the SC of course. But better than artificially declare a red flag just to have an exciting finish.

      1. And the fuel?

        1. Stop using logic and reason in an intelligent way! This is an internet comment section, such behaviour is frowned upon.

        2. Refuel for the remaining laps :)

          1. @tifoso1989 no need as you use almost no fuel behind sc also it rewards teams for being more fuel efficient in the race, i don’t agree with adding laps behind sc to add on to the end of the race but something like a red flag and 2 lap shootout if the race cannot be completed with at least one full racing green lap, this would avoid the farce ending to 2021 abu dhabi and the pathetic anti climax to todays race.

            random cars breaking down forcing a vsc/sc is only going to get worse with the ridiculously strict PU competent usage and grid penalties forcing teams to run cars marginal on endurance instead of taking a grid penalty for taking new parts. The FIA needs to have a long term solution to this

          2. It’s reasonable I think, you already have a SC, so cars are in a certain order and bunched up, refuel them all and make sure they’re in the same order.

      2. Best would be to interrupt the race after 3 laps of SC. We have had very long SC in the past and it is just annoying, if it needs more than 3 laps, then problem need more time fixing and it will be easier and faster to do without SC and cars driving around.

        Like VSC is intended for very short periods, then SC fore slightly longer and red flag for anything requiring some time. As soon as marshals noticed the car was stuck in gears, it was obvious it would take time.
        Also like if the rules can be relatively predictable and consistent.

    2. Interestingly the rules were not “followed to the dot today”, as the SC picked up to be wrong car and probably caused the SC period to last longer than needed.

      1. The rules were followed but errors were made in the execution of following those rules. One of which you’ve pointed out.
        There’s a long way to go on this before they get it sorted. I hope they are at least discussing it.

    3. Yesterday was not championship decider or might not even race decider, why bother?
      Adults understand that risk no gain, and no gain why take risk?

  2. Today the race director made an huge mistake. I don’t understand why Toto does not see this. Had his team taken 10 mins to change tyres he would have admitted the huge mistake that race direction made today. There was plenty time to deal with the incident.
    In Abu Dhabi the race director made many mistakes which led to executing the right call very poorly but personally I at least applaud the effort to make up for the mistakes as the race would have been restarted if Masi had not rushed some calls early on.

    1. “which led to executing the right call very poorly” good jokes mate. executing right call :) very very funny.
      rules that were there for 70+ years, after talking to loosing team, butchering the rule book and common sense in the process is criminal act to say the least, if it happened in footbal, that refree would be banned for life in addition to match fixing charges, and scoring team would be investigated for match fixing!

      1. 70 years? Safety car didn’t exist till the 80s or so!

  3. Today the problem was the amount of time the SC took to go in front of the leader. If they don’t put the SC in front of the leader right away why instead of trying to catch the leader doesn’t the SC wait until the leader catches the SC?

  4. For those that might think the Abu Dhabi decisions were correct, for this race they would have removed the 2 cars between LEC and VER, left everyone else where they were, yanked the SC off, and went green with LEC next to VER.

    Mercedes actually benefitted today as SAI would have easily passed RUS on a restart.

  5. Sour Toto still sour. Maybe he should learn to do pit stop strategies. Prefer new tires to track positions is what lost them dearly..

    1. What cost them was the RD braking the rules. Only stupid orange fans claim that it was pit stop strategy, when in fact it was nothing but a manipulated result.

      1. “lapped cars will not overtake”, I’ve never seen that message apart from abu dhabi; in that same moment should’ve been “lapped cars will now overtake” and that would’ve ended up with the same finish as we had except by not breaking any rule, there was the time.

      2. Those who claim it was pit strategy tend to forget that the decision to force a restart with only certain cars unlapped came well after any pit stops were made, not to mention Hamilton didn’t have the chance to pit. It’s a desperate attempt to hide from the fact rules were willfully broken that day.

  6. Toto’s right for a change.
    Now we have VSC I think the Safety Car is outdated. It’s too slow and cumbersome to deploy. Other than advertising Mercedes and Aston Martin road cars, it doesn’t do anything the VSC can’t, and if you want the action and drama of a bunched pack, then have a standing restart. Even if it’s one lap to go, the majority of people would have enjoyed a last lap standing restart more than a safety car finish, as long as it’s mandated in the rules and consistently applied

    1. It is not outdated. You need something more than a VSC when marshals or recovery vehicles are on the track. VSC is only a 40% reduction. They are probably still going 200+kph on the straights. You telling me that if you were a marshal, you would be comfortable working on the track while 20 cars are buzzing by at that speed?

      1. You need something more than a VSC when marshals or recovery vehicles are on the track. VSC is only a 40% reduction.

        Only a 40% reduction by regulationthough. It’s all electronic monitoring and could just as easily be written into the regulation that there are 2 or 3 levels of VSC at 40%, 60% or 80% reduction. Or indeed any other values you care to name

    2. As @trido mentions, the reason why the SC is needed in some cases is because it bunches up the field together, so that when the train of cars passes, the marshalls have about a minute or two where there are NO cars around to safely to the more complicated work and get the big tractor out there without any risk of cars running into them or into the tractor @SteveP, @swh1386

      I do think something (maybe just waiting for info? Miscommunication?) went wrong here, since it seemed to take more than a lap to get the SC out there even after it was called relatively long after the incident happened (they probably hoped the car could be moved without need for heavy equipment), and off course the issue with picking up Russel first.

      1. As @trido mentions, the reason why the SC is needed in some cases is because it bunches up the field together, so that when the train of cars passes, the marshalls have about a minute or two where there are NO cars around to safely to the more complicated work and get the big tractor out there without any risk of cars running into them or into the tractor @SteveP, @swh1386

        Again, it’s all electronic monitoring and info relayed to the driver: simply send a set of instructions that causes them to bunch up – if you really want to provoke an argument about destroying the hard-earned advantage of various drivers.

  7. Tommytintop (@)
    11th September 2022, 21:54

    This is what happens when decisions are made by committee. You only require ONE person to make the decisions.
    As soon as they knew that the car could not be moved, make a decision. Do not leave it Two laps.

  8. I am sure all the F1 people will freak when I say this, but NASCAR this right. Races do NOT end under caution (with exceptions). Green, White, Checker. So the race end with people racing, not following a SC.

  9. Christ, let it go already.

  10. This has been the one of the worst finishes in F1 history. Thank Toto Wolf and Mercedes for your input.
    Let get rules that prioritize the experience for the fans that in the end pay for everything!

  11. Will Toto ever get over it?

    At least one person was happy about finishing under the Safety Car.

  12. As far as I understood last year all teams specificly asked in advance not to end the (last) race under SC. So I think there was huge
    pressure for Masi. So in that and this case you are never doing it right. To race or not to race……

    1. I think this request is frequently misunderstood as we’d all ideally like a race to finish under green but no one was asking for rules to be broken to force a green flag finish or a “spectacle”.

  13. He should have moved on

  14. The main issue that caused the delay is the safety car not waving Russell etc through immediately and waiting for Verstappen through.

    What happened was Verstappen driving around at his delta speed through the whole lap gradually catching the safety car train. While this is happening the cars are not getting bunched up to give Marshall’s time to work and still travelling relatively fast.

    If the safety car had waved everyone through immediately and slowed down way off line. Verstappen would have caught up faster, drivers would have bunched into the correct order, laps would have ticked by slower and Marshall’s would have had more time to work safely. It would have eliminated the phase of having to release Russell etc to catch up the pack after they had all eventually bunched up. All they would then have needed to do is release (all!) the lapped cars and get maybe 2 laps of green flag laps

    It seems what we got was less safe, less practical and less entertaining…

    1. If the safety car had waved everyone through immediately and slowed down way off line. Verstappen would have caught up faster

      Would Bottas still have remained lapped?
      Not sure whether he was cautious about the lunatic side to side manoeuvres of the RBR car in front of him, or whether he wanted lapped cars still in the SC train at the finish as commemoration of Abu Dhabi.

      1. I’m not proposing any changes to the unlapping rules. Cars can only unlap when given the official message. There wasn’t time due to the way they managed that safety car period. All the cars from Russell back to car in front of Verstappen should have been waved through until the leader came up to the safety car.

  15. Agreed. This is how the rule was written. That said, today was the first time in a while that the race actually finished under full safety car. I think fans, teams and drivers don’t like the feeling even if it is how the rules are written. Maybe it’s time to try an alternative.

  16. Does anyone even recall their names ? Masi was an F1 household name and then a global celebrity. he was bad though, always succumbing to pressure from Merc except in Abu Dhabi last year , which did cost him his job. Charlie Whiting was a pillar of an era of F1 where people were not removed just like that from the sport they were part of and even James Key, Alonso, Briatore etc. made their way back.

    The times have changed and now there is so much Liberty to Liberate important people of the sport for whims and fancies, change the character of cars and tracks and races to suit a WebSeries and driver interest at expandable seats to lure the Stars and Stripes

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