It’s getting tiresome writing about the FIA this season because good referees in any sport should be invisible. It should all be about the competition. Yet again the Formula One Singapore GP saw a number of situations where the FIA, Race Control and the stewards are front and centre.
There were echo’s of Monaco 2022 at the start when a heavy downpour delayed the start of the race. The difference here was that in Monaco the cars were already on the grid. Yet by the time the race began over an hour later, the circuit had been fine to race on for quite some time.
In Singapore the rain came about an hour before the start of the race so race control delayed the start procedure. This begins an hour before the formation lap begins.
Visions of F1 Monaco start cockup
The start procedure was delayed indefinitely and it was eventually announced that the new start procedure would begin 1 hour and 5 minutes after the original schedule.
At that time there was a concern that the 3 hour window to complete the race would mean the 2 hour time allowed from lights out to chequered flag would be compromised.
Eventually race control revealed they would only begin the three hour countdown from the time of the rescheduled race. This meant at a circuit where read flags are likely, the 2 hour race wouldn’t lose significant race time.
Yet by the time the cars set off for the formation lap, not one driver fitted the full wet tyre, which raises the question as to why Pirelli spend all the R&D on developing these tyres if Race Control do not allow cars on track when the intermediates are inadequate.
FIA too cautious over DRS
Next up, Race control refused to allow DRS until the final laps of the race. The concern would be that off line the circuit was wetter than online and to make an overtake requires the cars to go offline.
Though this approach appears rather ‘anti-racing’. There were overtakes as Max Verstappen made his way through the field twice, so denying the drivers DRS simply made the decision to stay out on used intermediates for longer the only one the teams could make.
F1 Race control dithers again
Finally, with a number of laps to go Race Control revealed they would investigate Sergio Perez after the race for a safety car infringement.
Perez was leading the race at the time in a battle with Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc.
The last time a penalty was issued for falling more than 10 lengths behind whilst under the safety car was in 2020 with Antonio Giovinazzi. Sebastian Vettel was given a drive through penalty for the same infringement in Germany 2010.
Why the FIA needed to wait until after the race is unknown.
Perez eventually won the race but the podium was soured for the fans, his team and Sergio by the uncertainty the stewards created.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said after the race, “We believe it was an infringement…. it has been a 5 second penalty. But again, we are not there, we will not participate with the stewards. It is difficult for us to judge. We can simply wait and see whether it will change the final result of the day.”
Paul Di Resta stated, “I’d like to see the decision made during the race and I think it gives us a clearer view going into tonight and generally going forward. It would be harsh if he [Perez] got a penalty cos there’s been many many circumstances when people have fallen further behind [the safety car] on formation laps or in the same scenario.
Maybe fortuitously for the Singapore FIA stewards, Perez finished almost 8 seconds ahead of second place LeClerc and so they can issue a 5 second penalty without having to reverse the results hours after the chequered flag.
Once again the FIA will receive criticism for their apparent inexperience and indecision.
The call for full time professional se]tewards and just one Formula One race director rather than the two headed hydra we have at present.
"We can only trust in what they will decide"
Mattia Binotto has his say on Ferrari's day in Singapore, and what the outcome of Sergio Perez's investigation could mean 👇 pic.twitter.com/yvPnB6rkAq
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 2, 2022