Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monza, 2022

“We’ll have four racing laps’: How F1’s Safety Car confusion unfolded at Monza

2022 Italian GP team radio transcript

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Formula 1 teams were waiting for the Italian Grand Prix to restart but as the final laps ticked down it became increasingly clear something had gone wrong.

To the frustration of most drivers in the field, the race never restarted, and the Safety Car continued to circulate at the front of the field, finally peeling off just in time for the chequered flag to be waved.

The top three drivers in the queue all pounced on the opportunity to pit. Lewis Hamilton, running fifth, stayed out. But as their radio messages show, none of them expected the race was essentially over at that point.

But behind race leader Max Verstappen and pursuer Charles Leclerc, something had gone awry. Instead of appearing at the front of the field, the Safety Car was running ahead of third-placed George Russell.

The delay in reorganising the field behind Verstappen added to the delay of clearing the stranded McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, which had caused the Safety Car period in the first place. When that happened, six laps before the end of the race, the drivers were quickly alerted to the possibility of a decisive late-race restart.

Lap: 47/53
Bonnington So we have double yellow between turns six and seven, Ricciardo stopped. Right-hand side, exit turn six, Ricciardo car stopped. Musconi So you’re entering yellow, yellow. Recap of stop the rate of sight. After six. Verstappen I see a car stopped. Marcos Padros Double yellow, turn seven. Double yellow, turn seven. Switch position yellow. Switch position yellow. And flap update when you can.
Bonnington Let us know about… Safety Car, Safety Car, keep the delta positive. Let us know about restart, there are two cars in your windows. We have six laps remaining. Russell What are we doing? Lambiase If you see Safety Car or VSC, pit, Max. Stay out for now.
Hamilton Tyres should be okay. Are they… car behind me is going to have better rear, that’s for sure. Musconi So be on standby. So remember if it’s Safety Car you’re in, VSC you’re staying out.
Bonnington Yep, don’t know if Norris will take it, he will lose track position. Musconi Safety Car! Box. Box. Box. Box. Box. Box. Box. Box. Box. So nice and easy, stop on your marks.
Hamilton [Unclear] depends how long this is out for. Depends how long this is out for.
Bonnington Keep the delta tight. So we’ll stay out. Stay out, stay out. Go strat mode one, just keep tight on that delts.

While Hamilton stayed out, Russell came in. He was the first of the leading trio to do so, as Verstappen and Leclerc had already passed the pit lane entrance when the Safety Car was deployed. There was nothing unusual about this: the rules state the Safety Car will join the track “regardless of where the leader is.”

Russell had to wait for a signal to overtake the Safety Car
After rejoining the track, Russell caught the Safety Car. Under these circumstances the FIA’s observer situated in the Safety Car is supposed to “use a green light to signal to any cars between it and the leader that they should pass”. This should happen once “ordered to do so by the clerk of the course.”

Mercedes told Russell he should be allowed to pass the Safety Car but the driver pointed out he wasn’t being given the necessary signal to overtake. He was at the point of taking it upon himself to do so anyway when Mercedes advised him they should stick to the rules.

Behind him second-placed Leclerc was eagerly anticipating a restart, and Ferrari were hopeful they’d be ready to race again with up to four laps remaining:

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Lap: 48/53
Bonnington So stay on the delta. So Perez has stayed out, Norris has pitted. Musconi So looks like everybody stopped. All clear on exit, you’re not racing cars on exit. You’re going to be following your delta. So on the soft we took two more holes of flap. So keep the delta positive. The positive. Lambiase Okay Max so there’s yellows at six and seven. Safety Car deployed. Safety Car deployed. So dash positive, target plus one. So Daniel has stopped between six and seven. Marcos Padros And Safety Car deployed, stay positive. And SOC six.
Hamilton Position? Musconi So end of this lap it will be five laps remaining. So you can go by you’re not the leads, you can go by the safety car. Verstappen Can we make a free stop? Leclerc We are… let me know what to do.
Bonnington So currently P5. Russell Are you sure I can overtake the Safety Car? Lambiase Yes. Just make sure you’re on your delta, plus one. Just focus on your position when you stop. Marcos Padros I will look.
Hamilton Is Perez on brand new tyres?. Musconi If there’s a green light on top. Verstappen Is Leclerc still, he has a soft right, or not? Leclerc Otherwise I know what to do. Verstappen has a Safety Car gap stop?
Bonnington Five-lap-old tyres. Just try and keep T-water up if you can. Going to pick the Safety Car, up you can see it’s just ahead of you, but stay on that delta. Russell There’s a yellow light on top. Lambiase Yes. Just focus on your pit stop now Max. We’ll go through the rest of the race in a moment. So box this lap. Focus on your marks. Strat 12 in pit lane. We’re expecting Charles to come in as well. Marcos Padros We do not gain position if we stay out. So stop this lap, box this lap.
Musconi They should wave you through. Leclerc Copy. Are we losing?
Russell Copy that, I will overtake the Safety Car. Marcos Padros No we are not losing position. And we’ll stop for used soft, used soft.
Musconi So stay behind, stay behind. So cool the PU. So when the lights are going green, they should wave you through. Use brake magic when you can. So Verstappen the leader is at turn five. So five laps to go. Leclerc Copy that.
Marcos Padros We believe we’ll have three or four laps after the Safety Car, racing laps. And box now box pit confirm.
Leclerc Copy.

The drivers continued in the same order, Russell still waiting to get the signal to overtake the Safety Car. Meanwhile the recovery of Ricciardo’s car was continuing, the marshals at the scene having discovered the McLaren had stuck in gear and needed a crane to be moved out of the way.

Drivers queued for laps awaiting a restart which never happened
The FIA later said this was the reason why a restart never happened. “While every effort was made to recover car number three [Ricciardo] quickly and resume racing, the situation developed and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road,” an FIA spokesperson explained.

“As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority, and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag, the race ended under Safety Car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all competitors. The timing of the Safety Car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure.”

However several teams pointed out there was more to the problem than the recovery of Ricciardo’s car. “That wasn’t the problem with the with the Safety Car procedure,” said Alpine sporting director Alan Permane.

“It looks like the Safety Car picked up the wrong car. But that’s quite easy to rectify very early on and I don’t quite understand why they toured around and then let everyone form up.

“I need to look at it, I don’t want to bad-mouth race control or anything, but I think we had something like six, seven laps to go when it came out so I would have thought a couple of laps to form up and a lap or two to let the lapped cars overtake and then you’ve got a three-lap sprint or something, which would have been quite entertaining. So I don’t know what went wrong with it.”

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Lap: 49/53
Hamilton Is anyone else ahead pitted? Musconi So green three position four. Following the Safety Car, Verstappen the leader it’s still at Safety Car line two. And Leclerc P2 at turn one. Lambiase Strap three, strat three. White line on the exit and still follow the delta, please. Follow the delta. Recharge on. Keep working the tyres, Max. Okay so the Safety Car is stopped on the entry to turn 11 and it will pick you up. Correction, that’s a GPS error. Safety Car we believe is at turn three. Marcos Padros Copy. And diff in zero when you can. And we need mode Safety, charge button off. And Verstappen in front pitted for soft. And secondary KC position eight when you can. KC8.
Bonnington So Leclerc and Sainz, also George has pitted. That car’s still not moved. Do what you can on T-water. So there’s now a crane on-track and marshals and they haven’t moved that car yet. Russell Did he pit, I presume? Verstappen So, tyre update?
Musconi They all pitted. They all stopped. [Unclear] Four laps to go for you. So there’s a crane on-track at turn six and marshals as well. That’s on the right-hand side. Lambiase So Leclerc pitted for a scrubbed soft. Russell has also pitted for a scrubbed soft. Sainz for a new soft.

Finally Russell got the signal to pass the Safety Car. But he and the other drivers following him had to overtake it, cover a lap of the track and rejoin the back of the queue before a restart could be ordered.

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Lap: 50/53
Bonnington So you’ll be allowed to pass. Musconi So if you got the green light, you’re going by. Lambiase Okay we’re free to start to catch the Safety Car. Keep working the tyres, Max, as much as you can. Leclerc When will we restart?
Hamilton Why are we passing? Russell Will we get any racing? Lambiase Okay this was 50 laps complete, three remain. Okay there is a crane on track at six and seven, Max. Keep working the tyres as best as you can. So the Safety Car is now releasing the remainder of the cars and is waiting to pick you up. It’s currently entry turn eight. You may also expect… I’ll let you know if lapped cars are going to come through behind you. Just stay on racing line for the moment. Marcos Padros We are checking if we are restarting, we’ll let you know. Next car in front Tsunoda is catching the back of the pack at the moment. Safety Car is in turn four, five. And there’s a crane on truck at turn six and seven. Crane on-track at turn, six, seven.
Bonnington It basically looks like they picked up the wrong car for race leader. So an awful lot of cars have got to make their way back around. So don’t work… Musconi Please repeat. You can go strat five and pushing.

Given the time it had taken to get past the Safety Car and being forming up the queue, Mercedes were now doubtful there would be a restart at all.

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Lap: 51/53
Hamilton Who’s in front of me? Sainz? Russell Will there be any racing laps? Leclerc Copy that.
Bonnington It’s a backmarker, Magnussen. Musconi We don’t think so. But get your tyres ready for that. So Safety Car, P1 and P2 are at the Parabolica. They have only two laps left. Very unlikely we’ll go again. Marcos Padros We need driver default bravo four, seven on. Bravo four, seven on. So Verstappen now is right behind the Safety Car now.
Hamilton No it’s a Ferrari mate. Musconi So entering a yellow yellow, caution there. Leclerc How many laps left?
Bonnington Sorry, year. So it is Sainz ahead and then we’ve got Magnussen ahead of him. Russell Where’s the leader? Marcos Padros Two laps left. Charge button on and mode race.
Hamilton Who’s P1? Musconi Leaders are at turn four. So it’s saying clear in track in sector eight and nine.
Bonnington So it’s Verstappen P1, Leclerc P2, George P3.
Hamilton How many laps left?
Bonnington So we have two to go.
Hamilton We’re P5?

Verstappen, following the Safety Car, was concerned it was going too slowly and said it should speed up. But the prospects of the race restarting at all were now as good as gone, to Leclerc’s obvious frustration:

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Lap: 52/53
Bonnington Affirm. P5. So Lewis we believe this is going to wait until all cars have caught up. Likely to finish behind Safety Car. Russell It’ll be last lap next lap. Lambiase Keep working the tyres, Max. Leclerc They should let the cars overtake, the Alfa Romeo and the AlphaTauri.
Hamilton Okay. Musconi So they’re going to wait for all the cars to bunch up and they’re going to finish under Safety Car. Safety Car turn seven. Verstappen Safety Car can go a bit faster, we’re only going 180. Marcos Padros Understood. We are asking for that.
Bonnington So Safety Car exiting turn 11 now. Russell Shall we go strat one, then? Lambiase Understood. Doing a good job with the tyres for the moment, so keep it going. The lapped cars are yet to be released. So we’re still waiting for the lapped cars to get released and then it would be the lap after. So not looking like this could restart at the moment. Still so my message about the lapped cars being allowed to overtake. Marcos Padros And we will finish the race behind the Safety Car.
Bonnington So this is final lap, final lap, it will finish under the Safety Car. Musconi Doesn’t make a hell of a difference. So it doesn’t look like we’ll be catching them. So it’ll be the last lap, we’re not going to race again. Not going to resume racing. We can go strat one. Safety Car halfway between 10 and 11. Safety Car braking for 11. Verstappen Yeah, yeah. Leclerc Come on. It’s clear, come on.
Lambiase Okay Max so the race will finish behind the Safety Car. So one more lap to go. It will finish behind the Safety Car. As you’re aware it will pit at the end of the next lap and you will just take the chequered flag. Marcos Padros Yeah, copy.
Verstappen Okay. Leclerc Yeah, copy, push, it’s cleared now.
Marcos Padros Yeah, we are doing it.

Leclerc fumed at the hold-up which had thwarted a restart, while Hamilton wondered whether the rules could be changed to prevent the same happening again in the future.

Lap: 53/53
Hamilton In situations like this they should just extend the race. Musconi So you’re starting the last lap. So we got the message: Safety Car in this lap but there will be no racing. So Safety Car will enter the pit lane, you’re staying on-track and there’s no racing. We try to keep water up to 100. That’s another podium. Green one, position 14. Lambiase Start eight, Max. Marcos Padros So this is the last lap, okay. At the end of the lap, the Safety Car will come in to the pits and we cannot overtake.
Hamilton Remember bump, two. Bump in turn two. Verstappen What’s that? Leclerc It’s a joke, it’s a joke. It’s a big joke. The track was clear. Come on, come on. We are a Formula 1, what are we doing? Anyway. That’s it I guess.
Hamilton Yeah copy that, Lewis, we’ll note that. Lambiase Strat eight, please, strat eight. Safety Car in this lap and there’s no racing until the end. Marcos Padros So Safety Car in this lap and we need to stay on-track and cross the start and finish line. No overtaking.
Bonnington So Lewis just as a reminder the Safety Car will enter the pits but we’ll stay out to take the flag. No overtaking until the line. Verstappen I can leave a gap now, yeah? Lights are out. Leclerc Yeah, I know.
Lambiase That’s correct. Fail 84, please, fail 84. You deserve to win today, well done.
Bonnington Great job. Great job today. Back up to P5, kept the faith. Russell Well done, team. Good result, definitely not great pace. But good points on the board. Verstappen Very lovely mate. Great race that again. And you won your home grand prix. Marcos Padros Copy.
Hamilton Mega job, guys. Really mega job. Thank you so much for keeping the faith in me. Sorry for the damage, but got some points on the board. Horner Well done Max, you deserved that victory. It’s a shame it didn’t get going at the end there. But you were the fastest car all weekend so well done, mate.
Wolff Lewis P19 to P5, not bad! Verstappen Yeah, we nailed it. Great job, guys. We had a great race car.

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2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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26 comments on ““We’ll have four racing laps’: How F1’s Safety Car confusion unfolded at Monza”

  1. We believe we’ll have three or four laps after the Safety Car, racing laps

    came from Ferrari – we all know how their strategy has been this season :)

  2. What does this box mean? I don’t understand it.

    “And Peter, you found a good job with massive layoffs. Really? Well.”

  3. Advice for safety car drivers: if in doubt, pick up Max…

    1. That’s true, every race since mid season there’s more chance he wins than all other drivers combined realistically.

  4. Do we know exactly how long the Clerk of the Course took to tell the SC to wave by Russell+backmarkers?

    Very frustrating that this happened when the racing was so promising, but the rulebook had enough scope for racing to begin, so I don’t think any radical changes are actually needed. The existing procedure doesn’t look like it was executed well enough.

    1. Running out of time because a car was stuck in gear is an acceptable reason for finishing under safety car.

      Getting a well-known procedure wrong (starting with failing to wave George by) is not acceptable.

      1. Is this from their new control center where they have more people and screens.! Not sure it’s as efficient as it can be if that is the case. Maybe this was the first incident they had and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing…

  5. Something clearly went wrong and race control messed up. They would be better off giving the real reasons in public so that the issues can be explained and the same mistakes are not made again. Maybe they did discuss this at the FIA meeting on Monday but they still covering up at the moment.

    I think people who had paid for a ticket will still be very disappointed.

  6. where Masi is you need him..

  7. Thanks to the informative “as it happened” overview of the pit – car radios and analyses. These are really interesting to get an insight of what the teams and drivers were thinking and discussing.

    These kind of articles are really something I find only here.

    To make it even better, though would it be possible to ad a top bar telling us what column is which driver/car, since currently it takes a while to wholly grasp which is which when you don’t know the names of the engineers (I admit, I don’t) – @keithcollantine

    1. @bascb Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll see what I can do!

  8. Race direction followed the rules, but they were clumsy at best.
    – it took way to long to show double yellow flags and send out the safety car
    – took way too long to put away the stranded McLaren, it looked like if they were having to check the instructions manual to act, the scenario was simple enough, broken down car stuck in gear that required a crane to be retrieved.
    – safety car picking up the wrong car

    Race direction was way more ineffective and clumsy on F3 and F2, they affected race results and championships outcomes with some questionable decisions.

    1. It actually took less time than you thought it did for the safety car to be deployed. The problem is that the TV coverage made it look as if it took a lot longer than it actually did, which in turn means that quite a few of the complaints are based on wrong assumptions.

      It seems that the issue is more to do with the gap on track between the two leading cars and Russell, and the fact that both then pitted under the safety car. That created a very large gap between the leaders and the safety car, which then made it difficult for them to then catch up to it.

      Part of the problem is also down to the safety car going fairly quickly – people often complain about the safety car going too slowly, but the problems here were because the safety car was going quite quickly, making it difficult for other cars to catch up.

      1. Part of the problem is also down to the safety car going fairly quickly – people often complain about the safety car going too slowly, but the problems here were because the safety car was going quite quickly, making it difficult for other cars to catch up.

        As per my suggestion in another thread: VSC with different levels of speed reduction depending on the severity of the incident.
        Absolute guarantee the race leader is in the front of the “train”, if the leader pits the new leader takes control of the train.

        Also allows for a variable speed of the train at different parts of the track and removes the complaints about the SC “going too slow”

  9. Hindsight and all that, but Is it weird to anyone else that heavy equipment was brought on track without a red flag?

    I am not looking for red flags or ‘THE SHOW’ to be more important than the sporting nature of the event itself (i.e. the random nature of a race should not be artificially manipulated just because an event occurs on the next to last lap rather than lap 7.) But for those of us that watched or remember the 2014 Japanese GP, having a heavy vehicle (or any non-F1 vehicle really) on track or near the track and outside the barrier seems problematic to me.

    Yes, behind SC, double-waved yellows, etc. I know, but…

    1. @hobo I think the general consensus seems to be they will allow recovery vehicles to enter the circuit only when the cars are under full SC conditions and the track condition is good. Had it been raining, a driver was trapped/injured or the vehicle was on fire so close to the track I’m sure they’d have gone to red instead.

      While the Bianchi accident was horrific there were multiple mitigating circumstances, cars were travelling too fast for the conditions, there was no safety car I believe and just double waved yellows at the corner and of course no halo device on the cars. At the end of the day it’s a sport that will always have some risks but clearly there was more that could be done after the Bianchi crash and I think they have changed some of their recovery procedures. I would like to see the use of more static cranes in traditional run off areas though rather than putting vehicles in the firing line.

      1. Slowmo “and of course no halo device on the cars”

        The halo is a very effective safety device but I’m sure I read somewhere that it wouldn’t have made any difference in the outcome of the Bianchi crash. It was the rapid decellarion forces that caused the fatal injuries, rather than impact injuries. However, I take your point that conditions were different, and also very much agree that we should have more cranes rather than sending trucks onto the track. I find it strange that F1 insists on such high standards for tracks but then overlooks relatively simle requirmements for better ways to recover cars. I also think cars could be built with attachment points so that tow cables and lifting cables could be attached much more quickly.

    2. Really good point, if there is heavy equipment inside the barrier under a safety car the equipment is normally a gravel trap away. Not in this case.

    3. @hobo

      but Is it weird to anyone else that heavy equipment was brought on track without a red flag?

      Not really as thats how similar situations have always been handled in F1 and pretty much every other category.

      It was completely different to Japan 2014 as conditions were clear, The SC was out so drivers were at a safe speed & they knew where it was.

      It was a perfectly normal and safe use and exactly the sort of thing the SC was introduced for when it was brought in. Before the SC was brought in back in the 90s that car would have just been left there until after the race and covered under double waved yellows.

      At no point in F1’s history or in any other category would that have resulted in a red flag from a safety perspective.

  10. To quote Ronny Barker of the Two Ronnies – “What a mucking fuddle”.

  11. I’m really struggling to undersand what was going on here and I watched the race. Which car did the safety car pick up in mistake for the leader? Also confused as to why Russell was being given the signal to overtake as I didn’t think he was a lapped driver.

    1. Russell was the car who was picked up by the Safety Car. Hence why he was lapped (since the definition of the lap start is where the actual leader of the race is, and Verstappen was multiple cars behind Russell).

  12. It was a mess but at least the protocols were followed rather than trying to engineer an inappropriate restart.

    I was quite OK with it finishing under the SC. It happens.. time to move on.

  13. Unfortunately the FIA’s explanation does not stack up with what was written concerning the radios, nor indeed with the visuals. By lap 51, the car was cleared, thus the FIA’s explanation does not help.

  14. Not sure what the issue is here? Cars stay behind the safety car until marshals are off the track. Then they cars pass the SC and proceed — at speed — to the rear of the line until the leader is behind the SC.

    Whole point of the SC is to slow cars right down for the safety of the marshals when they’re on the track.

  15. Give every marshalling point a FIA-owned car jack, extra wide, with big off-road castor wheels. Lift car at the back, push out. Problem solved.

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