Magnussen near-miss prompts call for review of F1’s standing restart procedure

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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The Australian Grand Prix stewards have suggested the formation lap procedure before standing restarts should be reviewed after a near-miss involving several drivers.

Prior to the first standing restart, following the red flag for Alexander Albon’s crash, multiple cars bunched up under Safety Car at turn six. Some slowed to a stop, leading to Kevin Magnussen taking avoiding action and running over the gravel as he arrived at the scene.

Following the race, the stewards investigated the Safety Car procedure to determine whether any of drivers had failed to follow the restart procedure correctly, but ultimately decided to take no further action.

The stewards’ investigation revealed a slow getaway from the pits by George Russell inadvertently played a role in the confusion. As the field left the pit lane behind the Safety Car for the first restart, Russell sat in seventh place, behind Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas.

George Russell, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2023
Russell’s slow departure from the pits began a chain reaction
Russell was slow to pull away from the pit lane, with Hulkenberg already rounding turn three by the time Russell joined the race track. As a consequence, the rest of the field was strung out widely as cars made their way through the first sector, with 18th and last placed Kevin Magnussen the final car to leave the pit lane while leader Hamilton was already navigating turn seven.

When the Safety Car lights extinguished at turn six, Hamilton assumed control of the pace and slowed down heavily to bunch the pack up. With Russell having sped up to catch the cars ahead, he eventually pulled up behind Hulkenberg on the entry of turn six. Russell’s efforts to catch the cars ahead resulted in a significant speed difference for the cars behind as they caught up to each other.

Several cars bunched up at turn six, which has a blind entry due to the barrier on the inside. Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Nyck de Vries, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez all slowed to a crawl through the corner to hold position, while Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Magnussen arrived at speeds above 200km/h and had to brake suddenly when confronted with a pack of slow cars ahead.

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Zhou swerved to avoid hitting Perez. Sargeant missed Bottas by almost running off the track, then Magnussen ran onto the gravel to avoid all of them.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2023
Perez was alarmed by the near-miss
“Why do they stop, these guys?,” Perez said over team radio. “It’s very dangerous what they’re doing.”

Zhou was also unimpressed. “That’s fucking dangerous, guys,” he exclaimed. “They stopped on the exit of turn six.”

After investigating the restart, the stewards determined no action should be taken against any drivers. However, they raised concerns about the incident and the current nature of the regulations around restarts that could have contributed to it.

“When [Russell] and the cars behind caught up with the cars in front, they were met with a significant speed delta between the two groups resulting in a situation where a number of cars had to take evasive action,” the stewards described. “This was not at all an ideal situation from a safety point of view.”

Although Russell was slow to leave the pits, the stewards explained that they “did not consider that it would be necessary or appropriate to penalise [Russell] for a slow start from the pit lane. We therefore took no further action.”

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Despite opting not to intervene after the incident, the stewards did suggest that the current regulations around restarting races with a standing start procedure should be reviewed, given the difference in nature to rolling restarts.

“We do consider that part of the problem is the regulation that permits the lead car to set the pace even when the restart is for a standing start from the pit lane (as opposed to a rolling start),” the stewards explained. “This should perhaps be looked at in the future to see if this is appropriate for a restart of this nature.”

Formula 1, the FIA and F1 teams are expected to hold meetings over the gap in racing before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to discuss possible rules changes, including the format of sprint race weekends.

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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16 comments on “Magnussen near-miss prompts call for review of F1’s standing restart procedure”

  1. While an RF was never needed and a standing start was clearly not a fair/equitable way to restart the race, the incident was clearly down to multiple drivers not using common sense in how they prepared for the restart. This is a matter of issuing common sense guidelines for how drivers behave in these situations and penalizing drivers who do erratic things like rapidly coming to a near complete stop where it’s for the sake of tiring warming or bunching up the pack. That or do nothing at all. This is motorsport, there is always going to be some minimal level of danger.

    1. I fail to understand how in this day and age, with so many systems tracking the cars, that there isn’t an electronic warning when approaching a group of almost stopped cars, especially when the race hasn’t gone green! It should be out of the teams hands and happen automatically. Someone is going to get seriously hurt if this continues to happen.
      All the teams know what pace each car should typically be doing in any part of the track, it shouldn’t take too much of a genius to program a warning to the following drivers that a car they are approaching is traveling unusually slowly.

      With all the computing power available in F1 I’m surprised teams haven’t developed something like this already.

      1. It would be against the rules to have an automated system that provides live data updates from pits to the car. It is not allowed for teams to broadcast anything to the cars except voice for radio comm with the driver. Otherwise it would be too easy to exploit this and use it to adjust the car performance directly from the pits by-passing driver input.

        What they could do however is to have dedicated “spotters” like in IndyCar or NASCAR to give drivers verbal warning about any dangers ahead. This is mainly used on ovals where close quarters racing at high speeds is the norm, but is also used at specific points around road or street circuits – blind corners and such.

  2. Hamilton nearly caused a multi-car collision by driving unnecessarily slowly behind the SC like in the 2007 Japanese GP, which led to the VET-WEB collision.

    1. How is this related? Or are you just sharing stats? He did nothing wrong under the rules.
      Arguably Mercedes are at fault, as evidently Hamilton assumed he needed to slow down to allow the pack to catch up; whilst Russell thought he need to go faster to catch up the pack. I’d like to hear the full radio of both.

    2. @jerejj 24 minutes??? 😯

  3. The whole problem was caused by Hamilton who drove unnecessary slow during a certain part of the formation lap behind the safety car. There was no reason for this erratic driving at all. Lewis should know better, for because of the harmonica effect this creates a very dangerous situation further down the field. He should be penalized for unsafe driving.

    1. Why should he be penalised when the rules state that HE is the one to dictate the pace? If the rules stated he must maintain a specific pace then I’d understand your argument but as it is you just want to blame Lewis for the FIAs failings

      1. What is the reason for erratic driving on a formation lap towards a standing start? Just totally unnecessary and dangerous for the drivers behind him. Maybe correct by the rule book but still unresponsible…. Lewis should know better.

        1. Slow is OK. Erratic is not. The stewards felt his driving was OK.

          Your protest is noted, and dismissed.

  4. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    2nd April 2023, 14:14

    I think the fact Hamilton was into the second sector by the time the last car left the pits was the biggest issue here. He then slowed down more than necessary but the teams then take a fair amount of blame for not managing the large gaps front to back becoming a very small gap.

  5. Best Drivers in the world?

  6. I was reminded of the rolling start at Mugello in 2020.

    Whether it be minimum speed or segment delta times, something has to be done to prevent drivers driving unnecessarily slow when the rest of the field are in close quarters with each other ahead of a grid or rolling restart.

  7. Russel was too slow leaving the pits and driving too fast to catchup was the dangerous part. the Safetycars should release the pack when everyone was with him….. not only 6 drivers.

  8. If a car does not get away like Russell they need to let other cars past (but presumably that’s not possible in a narrow pit lane.) Considering his engine didn’t last much longer, it may have been caused by a related issue. Turn 3 is a very long way away from turn 1 at safety car speed so he must have been stuck for a while.

    On standing restarts they have condensed the normal pre race race routine to a single lap out of the pits / formation lap. An lap to the grid then a formation lap would be a pain but it would work just as it does at the start of every race.

  9. So purposely waiting in the pitlane to create a gap, which eventually nearly causes a multicar accident is not punished.
    Two out of three collisions at the restart are not punished.

    Talk about completely arbitrary stewarding. The FIA good ol’ days still remain with this new batch of stewards.
    No wonder Sainz was livid after the race.

Comments are closed.