Hamilton defends Bottas, Albon opines on dangerous SC re-start, Masi adds
The delayed safety car light turning-off has been talked upon as dangerous by drivers.
Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas along with Alexander Albon speak on the late safety car re-start being dangerous as FIA Race Director Michael Masi defends.
One of the prime reasons for the re-start tangle in F1 Tuscan GP at Mugello was the safety car lights turning off later than usual, which meant, Bottas kept it until the last moment to push his throttle, having caught out many in the mid-pack.
Haas' Romain Grosjean and few others echoed the sentiments that Bottas kept it until very late which caused the mayhem but the Finn was clear that he did what he had to do as a leader. The FIA stewards also cleared him of the mess, while warning 12 others.
Subsequent videos showcased multiple drivers accelerating and decelerating in a manner which would have ended in a catastrophic manner - and this is what happened. Everyone acknowledged that it was dangerous, especially on a track like Mugello.
In fact, Hamilton and Bottas, put it on the decision-makers for turning off the safety car lights later than usual, so as to have a better 'show', something which FIA Race Director Masi did not take it well. Albon, too, felt it was dangerous situation.
"Firstly, it’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all," said Hamilton. "It’s the decision-makers. I don’t know who. They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen they’ve put people at risk. So, perhaps they need to rethink that.
"They have been moving switching off the Safety Car lights later and later and later and we’re out there fighting for a position. Especially when you earn a position like Valtteri earned the position of being in the lead and then obviously they are trying to make it more exciting – but at Mugello, it was a little bit over the limit perhaps.
"But he did exactly what anyone would do. I don’t remember if the delayed off was brought up. Has it been brought up? I can’t remember," summed up Hamilton, as teammate Bottas acknowledged that it was taken up by Mercedes, but it was turned down.
"We’re allowed to race from the control line, which has been there for a while," said Bottas. "Just the difference this year has been the Safety Car, they are putting the lights off quite late, so you can only build the gap pretty late on. So, of course when you’re in the lead you try to maximise your chances and I’m not at all to blame for that.
"Everyone can look at everything they want for it. I was doing consistent speed until I went. Yes, I went late but we start racing from the control line, not before that. So the guys behind who crashed because of that, they can look in the mirror. There’s no point whining about it.
"The FIA or FOM, I don’t know who’s deciding what’s happening with the Safety Cars but they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights later, so we can’t build a gap early and then go like the corner before the race start. They in the main straight, so maybe it’s time to think if that’s right and safe to do so.
"I know that I think our team opened up the discussion again this morning before the race about the potential safety car re-start problem, saying that it’s a bit of a concern here, but they said basically they’re going to keep doing it because it’s better for the show. I think that was the reply," summed up Bottas.
Concurring with Hamilton and Bottas, was Albon, who said that they made it two-by-two almost to not crash into each other but it was dangerous still. "I think when you put the control lines so far in front and then also leave the lights so late it’s pretty obvious where Valtteri’s going to take off," said the Thai racer.
"He’s going to take off as late as he can and I imagine the midfield know when Valtteri’s going to go and they are also trying to get a slingshot and then when Valtteri doesn’t go when they think he’s going to go, that’s when the concertina happens and it’s dangerous.
"But it’s predictable as well in that sense because the closer you leave it or the less time you leave, let Valtteri decide when to take off, the more obvious… the shorter time he has to go so it’s quite easy to read. I don’t know if you saw but the top five were all almost doing a double formation start because we were all just waiting for the take-off.
"It’s dangerous. I think tracks like this are always going to be difficult as well, with long straights but definitely something could have been done better," summed up Albon. While the Top 3 drivers and others relayed their fears, Masi was absolute from FIA side.
"Absolutely not," he said to media including Racefans.net, Motorsport Network, BBC, Reuters, AMuS and more. "From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount full stop. And that's end of story. In my capacity as the race director and safety delegate, point blank, that's where my role sits, it's with the sporting integrity and safety.
"And anyone that says otherwise is actually quite offensive personally. I don’t think there’s any need to review the Safety Car restart rule. The first phase is that we advise all teams through the messaging system, which is also what’s seen on the graphics, that the Safety Car is in this lap.
"So that therefore prepares all of the teams to advise their drivers accordingly. From there, the next point is that – at a predetermined point at each circuit generally – the Safety Car boards are withdrawn, however the yellow flags continue to be displayed. Then, once the Safety Car is clear of the circuit, the yellow flags are withdrawn and the green flag is displayed at the control line only. And that’s really the phases of it," summed up Masi.
[Image courtesy: Daimler Media AG] [Note: This story was written on FormulaRapida.net]