“Got away with that one!”: F1 drivers’ unheard reactions to restart chaos

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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The chaos which broke out after the final standing restart during the Australian Grand Prix produced many winners and losers.

Three separate collisions removed four cars from proceedings and left others counting the cost of crashes they weren’t to blame for.

The carnage cut a swathe threw the field and elevated several drivers to the front. Nico Hulkenberg briefly looked on course for a podium finish.

But when the race director took the contentious decision to restore the original restart order he and several drivers were dismayed to find themselves relegated the rear again. Meanwhile drivers such as Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll avoided the repercussions of having gone off.

Here’s what they said to their teams about the controversial ending to Sunday’s race.

Max Verstappen

After the last standing restart race leader Max Verstappen was concerned by falling light levels at the track:

VerstappenWhat is the plan here?
LambiaseStand by, Max.
VerstappenAlso the visibility is really poor. I can barely see in front of me if somebody standing in the sun.
LambiaseYeah, roger. Okay Max, so just over three minutes. three minutes.
VerstappenBut what is the plan?
LambiaseWhen I get an update I will relay that to you mate. We’ve had no update.

Red Bull filled him in on the restart plan while he was out of the car. He led the field to the chequered flag behind the Safety Car, but expressed concern over how slowly it was lapped:

Verstappen led the field to the flag in low light
LambiaseJust over one minute.
LambiaseOkay Max so plan is Safety Car will enter the pit lane at the end of this lap. You will then take the chequered flag. It’s a rolling start i.e. just take the chequered flag. There is no overtaking until the line.
VerstappenWe are not doing a racing lap, or? I still don’t understand.
LambiaseOkay, so here it is plain and simple. The Safety Car’s going to peel in, you can accelerate full throttle exit turn 14, take the chequered flag and that’s the end of the race. There is no overtaking.
VerstappenAh okay, okay.
LambiaseMode three and recharge on.
VerstappenThe Safety Car’s turning the light off and still driving like 120.
LambiaseYep, roger that, Max.

Lewis Hamilton

Drivers and teams were unsure whether there might be yet another standing restart. From second on the grid, Lewis Hamilton had failed to beat Verstappen to turn one (though would have lost the position anyway due to the decision to reset the grid) and consulted with his controls engineer Marcelo Martinelli – ‘Mad Dog’ – how to get off the line better next time:

HamiltonIs this going to be long?
BonningtonYeah, they’ve got quite a lot to clear up.
HamiltonIs that Alonso out, or?
HamiltonMad Dog, that start didn’t feel very good. What did I hit target-wise?
Martinelli[Unclear] Lewis was just missing a little bit of grip.
HamiltonYeah. Rears were way out of the window.
MartinelliYeah, it was difficult generating temp in the formation lap

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Fernando Alonso

Having run third for most of the race, Fernando Alonso was furious about being knocked into a spin by Carlos Sainz Jnr at the restart, and urged his team to press the case for the running order to be reset:

CroninThere’s trouble ahead as well.
CroninRed flag, slow down. Okay.
AlonsoFuck me!
CroninYeah, copy.
AlonsoStupid rule! How the hell you can put a red flag before?
CroninYeah, copy mate.
AlonsoMaybe because we don’t complete a lap, we go back to the same positions? It happened in Silverstone.
CroninYep, we’re looking at that, we’re on that, we’re already on that.
CroninJust get the car back. Do you think there’s damage?
AlonsoIt’s okay. It’s okay. Okay. Okay. Check this, immediately.
CroninSo we believe the race is over, but we’re just trying to get confirmation on the classification. So just line up in the pit lane.
AlonsoYeah. Even that will be okay.

To Alonso and Aston Martin’s relief, he got his position back. Although drivers weren’t allowed to race at the restart, Alonso kept his eye on what Sainz and the others in his mirrors were up to:

CroninSo just be careful with your… don’t overlap the cars ahead. The cars behind you might be bunching around a bit, but you’ve just got to keep line astern from the car ahead.
AlonsoSo I don’t need to take care of the tyres, I guess
CroninAll okay, there’s no racing. There’s no racing.
AlonsoI have people behind they are warming like crazy, so just to confirm.
CroninSo just put a bit of brake temp in just in case anything happens. Put some brake temp in so it works properly.

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A red flag was thrown after the chequered flag due to a track invasion. Alonso urged Aston Martin to warn his team mate:

CroninSo Ferrari got zero points, Sainz was 11th. So we’ve got a red flag. Just keep an eye on your delta, keep it…
AlonsoYeah, no overtaking. Tell Lance no overtaking
CroninYeah, we’ve told him, Fernando, all good. Apparently there’s people on the tracks so keep a good eye out.

Lance Stroll

The reset was also good news for Stroll. He had skidded off at turn three by himself at the standing restart and fell to 12th place. The decision to reorder the cars meant his mistake was undone:

MichellSo Lance they’re still trying to decide what the grid should be so we’re standing by.
MichellSo Lance restart order P3 for Alonso P5 for us. So P5 for us restart order.
StrollBut, so are we doing a start now? Or no? Just going to be ’round?
StrollSo can you confirm, are we doing a proper standing start and a lap of racing or are we just following the Safety Car to the finish line because it’s the last lap?
MichellSo Lance the feedback is that we will go out of this order behind the Safety Car, take the flag with no overtaking.
MichellOkay Lance, to be clear, we go out behind the Safety Car. Safety car will come into the pits. You will stay on track and take the chequered flag with no overtaking.

Stroll expressed his relief at getting his position back after taking the chequered flag:

MichellOkay Lance that’s chequered flag. That’s chequered flag, Lance. That’s P4. Fernando… P4 for you, well done. Out one.
StrollGood job, team. Got away with that one!
MichellIt was good pace at the end when Gasly was dropping off so good job, mate, well done.

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Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez was in a similar position to Stroll. After going off at turn the timing screens showed he was in 10th place. However he restarted in sixth and finished one place higher than that after Sainz was given a five-second time penalty:

PerezAre we’re going back to our original positions?
BirdNo updates as of yet. Just into the pit lane.

Lando Norris

The red flag which led to the standing restart was triggered by Kevin Magnussen when he hit the wall at turn two, leaving a tyre on the track. McLaren initially considered pitting Lando Norris in response, then thought better of it:

JosephAnd the safety car window is closed. The safety car window is closed.
JosephLando possible debris between two and three. There’s a tyre. There’s a tyre. There’s a tyre on the left-hand side somewhere.
NorrisYeah, a lot of debris. If they can just remove the tyre it’s fine. There’s not actually that much debris.
JosephAnd safety car deployed. Safety car deployed. Minor Purple C2 position nine. Minor purple C2 position nine. Lando. What are your thoughts?
NorrisWhat’s the gap? If I can take it, 100%.
JosephWe will stay out. Stay out.
NorrisIf it’s for one lost position, I think I’d still take it.
JosephLando stay out
NorrisI would take it.
JosephStay out.
JosephAnd Lando there is a recovery vehicle on track in turn three.
JosephRed flag. Red flag.
NorrisAh ha. Okay.

McLaren used the opportunity provided by the red flag to remove a loose item from underneath Norris’ feet in his car.

JosephLando the thing in the cockpit, is it still there?
NorrisYeah, it was. It was like on my heels.
JosephWas it bothering you?
NorrisI mean, I got used to it in the end. If you want to just leave it, you can just leave it.
JosephOkay Lando we’re going to take the hatch off, have a look, see if we can find this thing. We believe there will be one formation lap, a standing start and two racing laps.

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After taking the standing restart and moving up to sixth place, Norris was hopeful there wouldn’t be another standing restart. There wasn’t, and although other drivers swapped places around him he kept his sixth place:

NorrisIt’s finished, right?
JosephWell, I think so, yeah. But we’re just checking.
NorrisIt has to be, must be finished.
Other voiceLando feedback from the launch. You were on target. Pete just says do the same. The wheelspin was a little bit too much throttle.
NorrisIt doesn’t matter, there can’t be another start, so…
Other voiceYep, understood
JosephLando apparently they are planning on resuming.
NorrisBut… Okay.
NorrisThere’s not been a ten minute warning or anything?
JosephThere’s been nothing. Just stand by.

Nico Hulkenberg

Race restart, Albert Park, 2023
Hulkenberg had taken fourth at the restart, but lost it

Haas were so unhappy with the decision to change the order they protested the result of the race, but were unsuccessful. It dropped Nico Hulkenberg from fourth to eighth, which became seventh after Sainz’s penalty:

GannonOkay. They’ve just published a restart order and we’re back in eighth. I don’t understand why, but that’s where we are. So we’ll be reshuffling the cars. Who was in front of Norris?
HulkenbergYou tell me!
GannonYeah, fine
GannonOkay. Okay. So we’re rolling back to eighth because they’re taking the start from before the last restart, and then there’ll be one lap and it’ll just go round to take the chequer under the Safety Car. That’s it.
HulkenbergBut, I was ninth, no?
GannonYeah but one car is out so now you’re eight.
HulkenbergOkay. So no more racing
GannonNo more racing. So we’re just going to get positioned correctly and then they’ll give us a restart time. And we’ll still fit the fresh tyres.

On his way back into the pits Hulkenberg suffered a power unit failure which forced him to stop. Haas told him to jump out of the car as it was potentially in an electrically unsafe condition.

Meanwhile the race had been red-flagged due to a track invasion. As the stewards later noted, this created a potentially dangerous situation, as Hulkenberg’s race engineer spotted:

HulkenbergFuck, I lost the engine! I lost the engine! Okay, I think it’s okay again.
GannonIt’s okay to go to the end. It’s okay to go to the end.
HulkenbergI think I lost the gear sync.
GannonChequered flag, Nico chequered flag. Mode slow and you were three seconds behind Sainz. All right, Nico, stop the car. We need to stop the car. Find somewhere safe. Stop the car. Stop the car as soon as possible then P1 then wait five seconds then P zero.
Hulkenberg[Unclear] guys. Good effort.
GannonOkay. Yeah. Good job. Nico you need to do an ERS jump out because the car is not safe, So just step on the bonnet and then jump.
GannonWhy are they touching the car? Anyway tell them not to touch the car. You go on the bonnet and just jump off the car. Okay?

Zhou Guanyu

Zhou Guanyu was especially unimpressed by the restart antics, saying drivers hadn’t been able to warm their tyres sufficiently:

ZhouThis is fucking ridiculous. We have no heat. Fucking cold.
BeckerSo calm down, Zhou, calm down.
ZhouJust for your info.

The wait for a restart tested his patience somewhat:

ZhouWhere are we? On the grid.
BeckerWe are at the moment in P8
ZhouYeah. I don’t know what you guys do, but it was literally zero temperature, like 60 degrees. Does it take long? Can I jump off toilet or not?
BeckerNo, [unclear], Zhou.
ZhouOkay, I’ll wait.

Once the plan for the restart explained to him, Zhou was dismayed to learn some of his rivals would regain positions they had lost by making mistakes:

ZhouWe finish behind Safety Car? Or we do a standing start
BeckerWe’ll be behind the Safety Car.
Speaker 2It will be one lap, one lap behind the safety car. The safety car is coming into the pit lane and it just crossed the finish line. The race is over.
ZhouYeah, but you know my position? Or not
BeckerI know. Yes.
ZhouOkay. Not too bad, but…
BeckerIt’s no good for the team.
ZhouI don’t know why once Stroll goes straight, he still gets the position back, into turn four?
BeckerI can explain you later. It has something to do with timing loops and the last position we can establish the order.

Valtteri Bottas

Like Perez, Valtteri Bottas started the race in the pits and worked he way forward. The crash at the final standing restart elevated him to ninth place, but when the field was reordered he found himself back outside the points, where he finished.

ChanOkay guys now we’re going to have a shuffle in the pit lane. So as it is the last lap it’s going to be a lap behind the Safety Car to finish the race.
BottasHow come I go back to 12?
ChanThis was the last point the timing was established.
BottasYeah, but if some people go off, you know, they shouldn’t be able to get back.

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Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz was dismayed to learn he’d been penalised

Having been given a five-second time penalty, Sainz tried to leave his rivals far enough behind at the finishing line that he would not drop out of the points. He failed, by just half a second.

Furious at the decision, Sainz initially hasten his return to the pits, but had to slow down when the red flag was waved due to a track invasion.

AdamiYou can open 10 car lengths to Alonso, can open 10 car lengths to Alonso now and then push. Open 10 car lengths and then push, closing the gap at the second.
AdamiGood job.
Automatic voiceChequered flag.
Automatic voiceRed flag. Stay positive.
AdamiWhy red flag now
AdamiI don’t know.
AdamiWhat is going on?
AdamiTrack invasion, track invasion for spectators, we believe, possible. Just watch out.
AdamiGoing too fast, here, too fast.

Esteban Ocon

The Alpine drivers bit their tongues after both retired when they collided at the restart:

OconThat’s it.

Nyck de Vries

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Albert Park, 2023
De Vries was taken out by Sargeant

Like Ocon, Nyck de Vries was also blamelessly eliminated, though in his case his team mate was not the culprit, but Logan Sargeant instead:

HamelinRight inside. Okay with this situation. Okay. If you’re beached…
De VriesYeah.
HamelinP1 and P0 please. Someone hit you from behind
De VriesYeah. Anyway. Ugh, mamma mia. Okay, I’ll jump out.
HamelinYeah a reminder for P0 please. Yeah. Someone hit you there. Sorry for that.

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2023 Australian 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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    3 comments on ““Got away with that one!”: F1 drivers’ unheard reactions to restart chaos”

    1. Alonso has two brains.

    2. As Kimi would say: What a fricking mess.

    3. “Alonso: Fxxk me!
      Cronin: Yeah, copy.”

      That got me laughing.

    Comments are closed.