Race restart, Albert Park, 2023

Verstappen blames decision to use standing restart for multi-car crash

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen blamed the decision to use a standing restart at the end of the Australian Grand Prix for the crash which followed.

Kevin Magnussen’s retirement in the closing stages triggered a red flag which set up a final restart. The drivers lined up on the grid for a sprint to the flag over two laps with Verstappen on pole position ahead of Hamilton and Alonso.

Verstappen kept his lead ahead of Hamilton at the restart. But behind them several drivers were involved in collisions.

Alonso was hit by Carlos Sainz Jnr, which knocked the Ferrari into a spin. Pierre Gasly ran wide at turn one and collected his team mate Esteban Ocon as he rejoined. Further back, Logan Sargeant rear-ended Nyck de Vries.

The race winner said the decision to use a standing start instead of a Safety Car contributed to the incident. “It’s quite clear,” he said. “I just didn’t understand why we needed a red flag.

“I think if you would have had a Safety Car and then just have a normal rolling start, we wouldn’t have had all these shunts and then you have a normal finish. So they created the problems themselves at the end of the day.”

Fernando Alonso said he did not believe the situation was serious enough to require the race to be red-flagged and believes drivers “will ask probably in Baku what was the reason” for it.

“I know there was a piece of tyre debris in the first straight. But the car itself, it was like in the inside of turn four so it felt quite safe there. And the Safety Car is for those kind of reasons.

“So for us maybe it was a different opinion. But the FIA are the only ones that they have all the cards in the table. So in those kind of situations we would trust them.”

Pictures: Drivers crash out in Australian GP restart

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2023 Australian 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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36 comments on “Verstappen blames decision to use standing restart for multi-car crash”

  1. Who says Max cannot make a clever statement!

    1. I have got a feeling we wony see him around for long anymore. He will shift focus to something else. This is hardly a sport anymore.

  2. If they are going to organise the race ending to resemble the Daytona 500, then we can’t be surprised when it ends like the Daytona 500; chaos on the final laps and cars binned in the wall…

  3. He couldn’t be more right & my view is precisely the same.
    The chaos got caused by an unreasonable red flag for something manageable under SC.

    1. 46 minutes??? 😯

      1. What’s the problem with how early or late an user posts? Also agree with verstappen.

  4. All these restarts are silly. But: when F1 is outdoing its supporting F3 race for weird driving and incidents, the issue is not with the procedure, but with the drivers themselves.

  5. Agree with Max, but a bit too obvious so not blindingly clever

  6. The title of this article is not supported by the contents.

  7. There was a lot of debris strewn right across the track so much so, the cars following the crash might have picked up the debris leading to punctures later on. The red flag was necessary for them all to change tires, as well as clear the track.

    If they had just rolled around behind a safety, there’s every reason to suppose it would have made matters worst, wtih punctures in the remaining laps.

    1. Exactly.
      The red flags weren’t for entertainment, they were for safety concerns with all the gravel, carbon and metal debris on the racing surface.

    2. @Ajaxn If you think some debris (or gravel) on track is a justifiable reason for red-flagging, explain how Kubica’s situation in the 2007 Canadian GP was manageable under SC despite additional vehicles, such as an ambulance entering the circuit.
      Charlie never unnecessarily resorted to red-flagging, so his successors shouldn’t have either.

      1. Agree that this could’ve been a SC, but comparing with 15 years ago is pointless. They use SC and red flags much quicker these days, especially after Japan 2014.

      2. 2007 was a long time ago, @jerejj.
        F1, and indeed the world, has changed a lot since then.

        “Charlie” also oversaw Japan 2015, when one person died putting several others in grave danger….
        And consistently took a very lax approach to the sporting regulations, resulting in F1 being run more in the manner of a private boys club than an international world championship racing series.
        If you’ve ever driven over (potentially tyre-damaging) debris in a high-performance race car, you’ll know it’s a big risk to allow people to continue on those tyres.
        Would you want to be the Race Director who oversees the next fatality or major injury? And how much consideration would you give to all the other people at the event?

        Red flag is a very sensible decision in those particular circumstances.

      3. Schumi_alonso
        2nd April 2023, 13:42

        Am just wondering if F1 has had to play it very very safe since Jules’ passing, in order to reduce its liability exposure. Cue Belgium 2021, Monaco 2022 (but scratch off Japan 2022). Or is this a result of how much we all miss Charlie Whiting now.

        Also an aside, imagine if similar red flag thinking from today’s race was applied to Brazil 2012.

      4. @jerejj there was some debate at the time whether the race should have been red flagged at that point, particularly given there was initially confusion over how badly Kubica had been injured.

        Initially, when it was thought that Kubica had fractured his leg, there was criticism directed towards Whiting over not stopping the race, although that criticism did then die down after it transpired that he wasn’t as badly injured as first thought.

  8. The supposed “Best drivers in the World” really just proved that they aren’t.
    Nothing at all wrong with the restart format – only with the competitors and their decisions.

    The FIA didn’t make anyone crash – the drivers did it all by themselves, under the exact same conditions that were present at the beginning of the (and every) race, AND a prior restart in the exact same race.
    Blaming the format is a joke told by people who don’t want actual racing in F1.

  9. Verstappen so often comes out with statements more suitable for a selfish teenager, but in this case he is right.

    This relatively new rule is daft when there is only a couple of laps to go and everyone is going for it in the short time available to enhance their position. They are racing drivers for goodness sake so we all know what is likely to happen.

    Another rule revue would be appropriate. Perhaps a standing start before half distance and then a safety car start after half distance?

    1. Thing is, if another standing start wasn’t the preferred option for TV, then there would have been no red flag in the first place, and likely no restart at all, due to laps behind SC.

  10. drivers “will ask probably in Baku what was the reason” for it.

    Answer: for the show.
    SC was the correct decision, but it might have led to the race ending under SC, which is valid, and should have been the outcome here. I’m sure many broadcasters around the world would have preferred this option irrespective of “the show”.

    1. Doing things “for the show” is frequently the worst decision as it turns thing away from people enjoying the actual show to complaining about the mess created by it.

  11. If they can’t have standing restarts because certain drivers can’t behave themselves, maybe they should stop F1 racing all together.

    1. They hardly ever do race together, and that seems to be what most of the ‘fans’ here want from ‘their’ F1.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      2nd April 2023, 20:11

      True but there’s only a tiny difference between a mistake and “an incredible, ballsy overtake.”

      If I’m in 11th at the restart with a single lap to go, I’m overtaking someone or I’m going to crash trying.

    3. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      2nd April 2023, 21:35

      I respectfully disagree. It’s easy with hindsight but a high pressure artificial situation is going to create high adrenaline attitudes. Cooler tyre temps and brakes also contributing and a change of tyre (new reference). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a standing start on lap one is likely to create less drama than one on in the last few laps.

    4. standing restarts don’t make any sense to me and only seem to force further incidents.

    5. That is ALSO true but maybe a different topic. Driver quality across the board is poor. Just tapping from the rich kid poule doesnt get us the talent we would expect at the pinnacle of Motorsport. I thought F1 driver academy would help in that regard but it seems to be directed at women only (!?), therefore automatically falling into the PR/Marketing stunt category. Doesnt come across as an inclusive initiative either. Pity.

  12. If a standing start is ubsafe towards the end of the race, why is it the norm at the start of a race when there are inevitably more cars on track, with heavier fuel loads so they are harder to stop? What is the crossover point? I don’t think you can just say “half race distance” or whatever without it being an arbitrary call?

    1. Problem later in a race is not everyone will have new sets of tyres available, Brakes will be work and there will be marbles, dust and other debris built up off the racing line all of which will make things harder than on the initial start.

      It’s a big part of why races never used to be restarted after a late race red flag and why they moved away from standing restarts in general in the 90s. Rolling starts were deemed safer and fairer from a sporting perspective.

      1. Brakes will be work

        Should say worn.

  13. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    2nd April 2023, 15:19

    It’s part of the artificial entertainment philosophy as well (The reason these standing restarts were introduced in the first place). Felt a bit of a weird race to be honest, another one of those F1 identity crisis days. 4 DRS zones, weird red flags and restarts, hard to fathom decisions and stewarding. I actually felt for the stewards to be honest and I could see looking at today the influences that led to Masi’s infamous moment.

  14. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    2nd April 2023, 16:53

    When you have no need to race then you have a different opinion of events. The drivers are the cause of the crash not the procedure. Why did for example Stroll go steaming on at turn 3 when he didn’t need to? Why did Gasly pull right when he didn’t need to?

    Why is it good to lose an unknown number of laps for the track to be cleaned up? When it is just a stopped car on track the time to clear it is generally known. The time to clear debris not so easy to determine.

  15. Like most of these incidents, the drivers are really to blame if anyone. But it does seem contrived, almost like a Roman coliseum: the crowd applauding the red flag and restart, FIA obliging with more of the same. Where does that leave the drivers? It’s why it must feel to them like they’re circus performers more than sportsmen at the pinnacle of car racing.

    1. If I’m not very much mistaken and I probably am, Saturday de Vries debris. Big red square 🟥 commentators debate if it’s a wing or a big chunk of bodywork. Well I’ll grab a drink this will be a while , corner of my eye some car with red or orange comes flying through over debris. TV immediately cuts away no further mention in commentary or replay. Want to give drivers licence to thrill or kill that’s all the encouragement they need. Stupidity follows.

  16. The drivers lined up on the grid for a sprint to the flag over two laps with Verstappen on pole position ahead of Hamilton and Alonso.

    Sadly, from the range of restart options available, F1 chose this procedure to do the restart. It has caused immense damage to the F1 brand. All around the world fans are dismayed by what happened. The real stories of that race have been smothered by this unfortunate episode.

  17. I think they should introduce a rule where rolling restart would be used after certain amount of race distance completed. The red flag after Magnussen crash made sense in a way that they wanted race to end up under green flag conditions. However it then didn’t due to new accident at the start.

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