Those involved in start-line crash relay memories of dangerous incident
Antonio Giovinazzi, Carlos Sainz, Nicholas Latifi and Kevin Magnussen relived the Tuscan GP's start-line crash.
Coming off the back of a turn-two crash in F1's Tuscan GP on Sunday, the field - now slimmed down to 18 runners - was eager to put an end to six laps of tedious yellow flag conditions, but a lack of coordination between runners at the front led to the seeming inevitability of a serious accident.
Believed to have been caused by Williams' George Russell, who accelerated out of turn 15 to catch the rest of the queue, the accident began when others interpreted this as the race start, and in response accelerated.
However, where Russell quickly realised his error and pulled to the right, slowing down, some of those who followed him failed to avoid traffic ahead: namely, Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi who slammed into the decelerating Haas' Kevin Magnussen.
Williams' Nicholas Latifi - who had also slowed and taken evasive action after realizing the restart was not yet underway - was collected by Giovinazzi, not long before McLaren's Carlos Sainz arrived on the scene at high speed, hitting the back of the Alfa Romeo.
Having been hit by Sainz, Giovinazzi was tipped onto his side, and though he landed on the track with all four wheels - or at least what remained of them - moments later, his experience was one of the most perilous of the day.
"I think it can be really dangerous like that," began an understandably rattled Giovinazzi after the crash. "I was already flat-out, the group behind [me] was already pushing. Next thing I saw, Magnussen was completely stopped in front of me. I tried to evade him, but he was right there and I was already flat-out, so just [a] really dangerous maneuvre."
The young Italian was able to escape the incident unscathed, as was the case with Sainz, though the Spaniard walked away from the crash with his head held low, and his wrist in his opposing hand, as he massaged it, seemingly in an effort to ease some pain sustained in the crash.
He later assured media that he was unhurt, adding in most encounters that he was happy to see everyone get out of their respective cars without injury after what he labelled a 'properly scary' crash.
"I'm OK, and it looks like everyone else is ok," said Sainz. "That's the main thing, because the crash was properly scary. We’re doing 290, 300kph (186mph) at that point, because everyone in front of me just thought that we were racing.
"Suddenly it looks like we were not racing anymore and everyone started braking again. By the time I saw everything it was just too late and it was a big crash," he said, urging F1 to take this incident into consideration, as he fears what might have been.
"It was similar to Brazil last year. It felt like at the back of the grid where I was, everyone in front of me thought that the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realised the race was not on. Something definitely to look into, because the speeds we are going at the main straights are very, very big, so the crash I had could have been much worse if one car would have sideways on the main straight and I could have took him.
"It’s something to learn from here because it’s definitely not a nice feeling to do 280kph and suddenly find three cars in the middle of the straight just stopped," summed up Sainz. More so an innocent bystander than a driver in a starring role, Magnussen, too, encouraged F1 to henceforth take this incident into account, perhaps as they evaluate the restart procedure in the future, and the placement of Safety Car lines.
“What seemed to happen at the restart was that the leader was going slow all the way to the line, which he’s entitled to do, but then somewhere in the middle – between me and the front, somebody decided to go," said Magnussen. "I guess somebody maybe tried to open a gap to get some momentum, but they went too early and tried to stop again.
"The guy in front of me started to go, we were flat out for a few seconds, then suddenly they all braked. I braked, I saw people coming past, then I was hit by Giovinazzi – who had nowhere to go. This is certainly something to take a look at – in terms of whether or not this thing about overtaking until the line is a good idea or not.
"Maybe it’s a good idea to have it somewhere earlier on the straight. We can’t have this happen again. I’d got up to P12 from P20 on the first lap, it had been looking good. This is definitely another missed opportunity. It has to be looked at, for sure, and improved for the future so that we don't have that situation again," Magnussen continued. "It was certainly dangerous -- something we want to avoid in the future."
On the matter of avoidance, Latifi stated after the accident that evasion was not a reality for him, as it transpired that he was taken out - through no fault of his own - by Giovinazzi. The Canadian also explained that any discrepancies in pace become amplified as each car reacts to the actions of those around it; a concertina, if you will, with the result in this case being catastrophic.
"At this track with the finish line being so late, it was quite clear that the leader was always going to try and go as late as possible to avoid the slipstream effect," said Latifi. "When you're in the mid-field, or the back of the pack, the concertina effect makes it a little more difficult to judge.
"But already, from the little straight into the last corner, it seemed like all the cars around me were going flat-out on the restart and I went, but I almost hit the back of Kevin already on the apex of the last corner - [it was] a really close miss there, and we bunched up again, and then again it seemed like everyone went.
"When you're that far back, you're just reacting to the cars around. In my experience, when that happens - and it's happened in Formula 2 - most notably in Baku the first year we went there, if the leader doesn't keep a consistent pace it just amplifies it with these cars. Really couldn't have done anything to avoid that; just a shame," summed up Latifi.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]