The Formula one race directors have come under fire this year for a number of incidents. There was significant criticism in Monaco for the undue delay of over an hour for the start after a shower as the cars were on the grid. The FIA later claimed there had been an electrical failure which meant the race could not be started.
The last time out in Singapore the start was delayed again for over an hour and by the time the cars went racing the track had dried substantially seeing none of the drivers choose the wet tyre to start the race.
Here this morning in Japan the conditions 5 minutes before the race – as confirmed by the safety car driver – were good enough for a standing start. This meant the teams all elected to begin on the intermediate tyres.
FIA race control decision questionable
However, all the teams and race control had weather forecast showing the rain would intensify a few minutes into the race. Of course the inevitable happened, the standing water and rivers across the circuit increased quickly causing Carlos Sainz to aquaplane and spin off into the barrier.
Surely it would have been better for the start to have either been delayed or even started behind the safety car. Starts behind the safety car in wet conditions mean the teams must use the full wet tyre which clears double the amount of water of the intermediate tyres at 60 litres per second.
“The conditions were pretty much impossible with the visibility and the intermediate tyres,” said Carlos Sainz.
“I tried to get out of Checo’s slip stream to see something, but I then get more water in the tyre and go into aquaplaning.”
Sainz was asked whether a grid start was appropriate. He replied, “Maybe the best would be a rolling start with extremes “.
Rolling start decision eventually made by race director
Unlike in Singapore the race clock of three hours had to start at the scheduled time because the light is only good for three hours after local time 2pm.
Is it the case race control have overreacted to the criticism they received for Monaco and Singapore?
Regardless, less than two laps completed before the red flag demonstrates surely the decision to start the race from a standing start rather than behind the safety car was not the best decision.
35 minutes into the 3 hour clock, race control finally gave the message the race would resume under the safety car, forcing the drivers to use the extreme wet tyres which will disperse the standing water.
Shades of Jules Bianchi death
Most seriously following the Sainz crash we had shades of Jules Bianchi’s trajic race here in Japan in 2014. As Pierre Gasly who started from the pit lane caught the pack following a pit stop for a new nose cone there was a recovery tractor moving towards the Ferrari as the Alpha tour driver appeared on the scene.
It is race control who release these vehicles to recover stricken F1 cars, so questions must be asked as to why this happened.
Jules Bianchi crashed into a recovery vehicle and lost his life in similar conditions as were seen at the 2022 Japanese GP.
Carlos Sainz was horrified over the tractor being on track and explained, “Even under the safety car we can be doing 100-150kph. If one driver decides to move out of the racing line, has a small aquaplaning or has to change a switch on the steering wheel and hits a tractor – IT’S OVER.”
“I don’t know why we still risk a tractor on track. It was going to be re4d flagged anyway.”
RACE suspended again
A minute before the restart was scheduled behind the safety car, race control indeed saw heavy rain coming in on the radar and suspended the start stating, “there would be a minimum of 10 minutes warning before any further restart.”
Karun breaks down everything that happened on that chaotic opening lap in Suzuka 🔎 pic.twitter.com/PjN3nHIhzp
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 9, 2022