Hamilton says F1 should extend races instead of ending them behind the Safety Car

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Formula 1 should consider allowing races to be extended in order to avoid them finishing behind the Safety Car.

The Safety was deployed when Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren came to a stop with six laps to go in today’s Italian Grand Prix. The race was not restarted and the field took the chequered flag behind the Safety Car when its scheduled distance of 53 laps was reached, which prompted some jeers from the crowd.

Hamilton told his team on the radio race control should consider adding more laps in future to avoid races finishing in a similar way.

“I mean, what’s the harm in extending it?” he said when asked by RaceFans about his suggestion after the race. “Naturally, as a racer, you want more time.”

However Hamilton, who finished the race in fifth place, admitted he might have come under threat from rivals behind had the race continued.

“I wanted to be able to challenge the Ferrari ahead of me and see if I could get another position,” he said. “But I think in hindsight it was probably a good ending. I’m really grateful to have come back from the last row.”

Other drivers pitted for fresh tyres when the Safety Car came out. Hamilton did not. “My tyres didn’t feel bad,” he explained. “I felt like I could keep temperature in them.

“They said there was two people in my pit window so if I’d pitted I would have come out behind two people and I didn’t want to risk it so I just stayed out.”

Race start, Monza, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Italian Grand Prix in pictures
That made it unlikely Hamilton would have gained more positions had the race resumed. “the soft was starting to fall off a little bit and I think they stopped so they had new tyres so I probably wouldn’t have been able to get past him,” he said.

Hamilton climbed to the front of the field after starting 19th. “I really enjoyed the battle with everyone, slowly working away with this car. It was definitely a challenge from the beginning.”

He said his late pass on Lando Norris proved decisive in his pursuit of fifth place. “This was a key move because I think if I hadn’t pulled that off then I would have been two places back,” he said.

“It’s just about timing. You don’t always get it right but I saw Lando coming out and I was like ‘this is the one moment we have the chance’. Fortunately he was getting challenged by someone else down the outside so I cut across and it felt great to pull alongside him.”

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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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46 comments on “Hamilton says F1 should extend races instead of ending them behind the Safety Car”

  1. Given that refuelling is not allowed this is a non starter!

    1. BTCC has this rule. They have no issues with fuel. So F1 teams would also solve this “problem”.

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      11th September 2022, 17:01

      It’s easily solved, instead of needing 5 litres remaining at the end of the race, you now need 10 litres, unless the race is extended, in which case you need 5 (adjust the values accordingly).

      1. @chimaera2003 – Indeed.
        @fullcoursecaution @f1mre
        The problem is without refuelling they couldn’t get the extra fuel needed for unscheduled laps, so drivers would run out of fuel before reaching the chequered flag.

      2. Yes. let’s make the cars even heavier.

        The only way to get more green racing is to have a Red Flag, and restart where you ended (maybe with the same deltas).

        1. @jff @George.be
          Refuelling would mean smaller a smaller tank, so lower overall weight.

      3. Aren’t we already complaining about the cars becoming too heavy? Sure, lets add another 5kg that serves nothing in 95% of the races.
        I would propose to make the neutralizations shorter by getting more equipment track-side (and please, get someone in the Merlo that knows how to operate the boom, because this seemed the cause of the slow recovery in Italy.)

    3. Not necessarily. As the cars were running under safety car for several laps, they would have additional fuel over the usual required for the race. I seem to recall running under the safety car uses about 1/3 the fuel full racing costs, so in theory, they had enough fuel for four more laps. In addition, the VSC probably uses about half the fuel of normal racing.

      Further, most teams don’t run full tanks anymore anyway. Fuel saving is rarely an issue.

      1. @grat Underfuelling only worsens the issue.

  2. Fuel makes this problem. I’ve read though years ago how fuel usage behind the safety car should be around half of the usage while going under green flags. If it’s like that, then there could be a rule where each two or three laps behind the safety car would put one more lap to the race distance.

    1. That’s a good idea.

    2. It’s easy to resolve the fuel problem. It just needs a regulation that all cars must start the race with the maximum 110 kgs on board. That would also stop lift and coast etc. It would allow full on racing throughout the race and the possibility of extending races where there’s a safety car near the end.

    3. That could work.

    4. How about each car has to carry a reserve tank, say somewhere between 5 – 10 litres, can only be used in the event of an extended race, if race finishes at normal distance every car has to prove reserve tank still has same amount of fuel as at start of race.

      1. Extra weight is not a great idea, the cars are already way too heavy

  3. Sir Lewis “Is there even a point for 10th position?” Hamilton once again showing his vast knowledge about rules of the sport he participating in since 2007. No wonder Max Verstappen is already beating his records in a car nowhere near dominant as Mercedes has been in 2014-2020.

    1. What a load of nonsense in every possible level.

      1. “beating his records in a car nowhere near dominant as Mercedes has been in 2014-2020.”
        this is new era of aero cars of adrian newey. they worked so hard on every weakness of mercedes’s car aero while honda made the gains they did (while redbul threatening quiting sports, they got all changes approved). now half way through season he can be declared wdc, and you call this not dominant? a car coming from almost back of the field to front row in like 5-6 laps is a joke? mercedes never had that much a of lead any point in time! and max was not that fast driver, he is just late breaker/dive bomber. not since spa, they probbaly accidently shown their real pace, and dial it down a little bit. noone solved the ground effect cars yet, adrian newey was already on top of it long before, and they advocated for it. now another 2009-2013 all over. red bull’s current car is purely aero, yes they have good engine as well, but so is everyone else, but due to purely ground effect issue noone apart from them turn up their engines. one can only hope that competitors find what caused max’s problem at silverstone, and focus on banning or modifying that area on any car. just like they did with mercedes’s rear floor/side in front of the rear tyres. they seen it on 2 occasions by chance, and just that area has been modified to slow mercedes. same with frics and what not. redbul car def has some weakness which is very likely a loophole they figured, and competitors need to just to focus on it and get it changed/banned.

    2. armchair hate as usual. was some nice race of HAM, wasnt it. lol

    3. Hahahaha what records?

    4. Max drove from 14th to 1st in about 6 laps at Spa. Today he drove from 7th to 2nd in the first lap.

      “nowhere near as dominant”. ha.

      1. Well, ferrari was quite competitive most seasons, they just made a big step after the summer break, maybe this could be similar to 2013, I didn’t watch it but I seem to recall red bull wasn’t that far ahead initially, then vettel won 9 races in a row after some directive.

  4. 2 or 3 extra laps maximum, depending on SC length. No DRS during the extra laps. I think they should do it if more than 4 full laps are remaining when the SC comes out. If there are less than 4 laps are remaining then it could cause more harm than good due to fuel. Better than a red flag.

  5. This would actually make sense – far more sense than instant calls for automatic red flags if safety car occurs 5 or 6 laps before the end of the race. Let’s say race distance + 3 laps if the safety car occurs less than 7 laps before the end of the race.

  6. He clearly failed to consider fuel load as the prime factor why extending overall distance on-the-fly would be impractical.
    Race distances are fixed & starting fuel loads are chosen based on a given distance, so his suggestion is unachievable unless in-race refuelling would return, which would be detrimental to on-track overtaking.

    1. You think he didn’t know how much fuel was in his car at the end of the race?

      That’s adorable.

  7. This works in BTCC. WTCC also used to have a rule where the first two laps behind the safety car didn’t count towards the overall race distance. Either would reduce (but not eliminate entirely) the possibility of races ending under caution.

    But really, today’s scenario could have been avoided if the safety car had been deployed in a timely manner. By waiting until the leader had passed the pit entrance, race control almost guaranteed that there wouldn’t be enough time to sort the field out and resume the race. If the race had been put under SC sooner, the leaders could have pitted and the safety car could have picked them up straight away.

    We’ve seen these weird delays in deploying a safety car in other races recently, including at Zandvoort where they waited an entire lap. There is no obvious reason why it needs to happen, and it does not seem particularly safe.

    1. Interestingly, we didn’t have these long waits for the SC to be deployed when Masi was in charge.

      Yes, I’m AD last year it took a bit longer, but he made up for it by calling it in faster ;)

      1. @jff Waiting unnecessarily long with deploying SC was a thing under Masi’s tenure too, for example, in Baku.

  8. This is actually a decent idea. Just add the number of laps remaining or spent under the safety car. Problem is though… any fans have other plans after the race…?

    1. @krichelle The primary issue is fuel load sufficiency to reach the extra distance without in-race refuelling.

      1. So how much fuel did the cars have today after 6 laps behind the safety car?

  9. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    11th September 2022, 17:24

    Why does the safety car have to keep going round and round.

    Safety car comes out, all like today, picks up the leader and then stops on start/finish straight waiting for track to be green.
    Once green the safety car goes again with lapped cars moving to the back of the grid, the safety cars comes in at the end of the lap and the race is restarted by the race leader.

    So same procedure as today only now without the needless circling of the track counting down the remaining laps.

    1. The engines would overheat if they sit still for too long, as the cars do not have fans to draw air into the radiators. They need to keep moving forward for cooling. The closest you could get to this is a red flag, bring them into the pit lane and switch them off and then do a safety car restart

      1. ady and jere are correct

  10. Everybody lose when f1 ends behind the SC, unless the accidents happens at either the penultimate or last lap. A safery car might be unfair for the leader but it always spices things up, and that’s not even a gimmick!

  11. Completely disagree.

    If a race is 53 laps then it should end on lap 53 regardless of if thats under racing conditions or a safety car.

    I hate the green/white chequered thing Nascar do, Always have and it (Along with other more gimmickey thing) are the reasons I don’t watch that series so i don’t want of that stuff to make its way to F1.

    1. Yep. A “single lap shootout!” is a fake showbiz finish, even a 3 lap one – I’ve felt more cheated than today when F1 races have ended with the field closed up near the end.

      Couldn’t they race on with the McLaren there under double waved yellows – who ever goes up the inside between the Lesmos anyway?

  12. I lile what karun sed. I have a similar idea. If theres a safety car say in the last 5 to 10 laps dependent on the track of the day. The race should be red flagged and a standing restart. Of cause there is the problem of gaps. This could be not the normal starting grid spaces but sum sort of penalization calculation for every second a driver was behind the driver ahead. Abit hectic to wrk out but also abit fair.

  13. How about if there is a safety car or maybe even a VSC in the last five laps, it’s an automatic red flag, possibly even with no tyre changes allowed. Gives plenty of time to get the problem sorted and everybody gets a proper finale.

    The only problem with this is, as is often said in BTCC, is that safety cars breed safety cars and what might happen if there is a pile-up in the remaining five laps?

  14. Safety Car is always two laps too long, first sending the passed cars around and only on the next lap after that, for whatever arcane reason, the safetycar crew always has to pass the incident site themselves before the signal to start is given. Must be written somewhere.All this could be compressed.
    That said, the length is the lentgh.

  15. A race is run to a set time or distance and then that’s it. It’s the way auto racing has been done for the past 130+ years and while it sometimes leads to a disappointing finish it is the most fair way of determining the winner. Manipulating the rule book to manufacture a grandstand finish every time only erodes the legitimacy of the sport and detracts from the genuine amazing endings. NASCAR already went down this exact slippery slope and F1 seems all too willing to join them in the name ‘entertainment’.

    1. 100% spot on. I retract my comment under.

      The only tweak needed is to get the safety car in earlier as it always stays out far too long regardless of before, during or at the end of the race.

      Also need to start letting them race when it’s raining again. Brundle grumbles about this every time. Sick of seeing the safety car driving round on a wet track but F1 cars can’t. No point in full wet tyres then.

      Spa 1998. Pure carnage but they let them race & no one got seriously injured & it created my all time face F1 moment when Schumacher tried to punch DC when he still had his helmet on!

      Now that’s what I call “the show”

  16. Red Flag then rolling restart is the fairest way to finish the race in racing conditions

  17. Other sports could also be continuously extended indefinitely. Noone goes home until somebody scores a goal / personal best / knockout etc.

Comments are closed.