F1 Race control under fire again

This weekend saw the first return of Michael Massi to the F1 paddock since he presided over the controversial end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

While Massi’s presence this weekend has been criticised by Sky F1 the former F1 race director may well have been glad he wasn’t at the helm towards the conclusion of the 2023 Australian GP.



Red Flags or Safety Cars?

The race was red flagged with three laps remaining due to Kevin Magnussen hitting the wall which saw race control declare a second standing restart of the day.

Following the restart there was a multi car pile up in turn 1/2 which saw the race once again red flagged.

The cars returned to the pits and race control decided to re-order the cars as they were for the previous restart. This caused controversy due to a different decision being made at Silverstone in 2022 where the cars were ordered as per the safety car line.

Carlos Sainz was also awarded a 5 second penalty for taking Fernando Alonso out at the restart, though given the restart was in effect declared void this decision appeared overly punitive.

Baku race weekend now up in the air




Sainz penalty excessive

The cars followed the safety car home to the finish and Sainz’s 5 second penalty saw him relegated to a place outside the points despite him taking the chequered flag in P4.

Haas claimed the order at the final restart violated article 57.3 of the Sporting Regulations which states “the order will be taken at the last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars.” 

The team argued the race director could have used Safety Car line two, which is located at the pit exit before turn one where the crash took place, to determine the running order, by using GPS and timing data.



Stewards back race director

The stewards ruled the race director was required to take a prompt decision on how to reorganise the field and therefore the Haas proposal was not feasible.

“Based on what we heard from the FIA representatives and from Haas, we considered that this was in fact done appropriately by the race director in this instance and therefore dismiss the protest.”

However an appeal cannot be ruled out which would be heard by the stewards in Azerbaijan. The cars had passed the safety car line used at Silverstone to re-order the subsequent start which would have benefited both Sergio Pérez and Nico Hulkenberg.

Massi reinstatement discussed in Melbourne



The irony of Michael Massi

The irony of Michael Massi being in the paddock this weekend was not lost on certain fans who believed the final two red flags were unnecessary and should have been handled under the safety car.

“Can you imagine if Lewis overtook Max at the restart and the race would finish with Max 1st because of the red flag?? 

“We would never hear the end of it! 

“Race director Niels Wittich and his family would get death threats and verbal abuse and after that he would get fired and Ted Kravitz would complain about his presence in the paddock.

“Some people just need to chill,” observed Dave Roth.

Given the discretion of Race Control it must be questioned as to the wisdom of using a standing start rather than an alternative start procedure available to Race Control behind the safety car.

READ MORE: Perez says Race Control decisions “dangerous”

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