F1 preview: A lap of the Italian Grand Prix
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Formula One teams have discussed changing the safety car rules to ensure races are red flagged and restarted instead of ending under a safety car. Martin Brundle said there had been talks over having a “standing re-start” to ensure a “thrilling finale”.
Writing in his Sky Sports column, he said: “There has been an initiative discussed whereby, in the final five laps of a race, if there’s an issue of this kind then throw the red flag and have a standing start re-start. We saw this in Azerbaijan last year and it does make for great anticipation and a thrilling finale to a race.”
It is understood safety car endings were on the agenda of a special meeting between team managers and the FIA on Monday. FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem had called the chat ahead of the race to discuss “a range of sporting matters”.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has pushed for a rules change after the unsatisfactory end to the Italian Grand Prix.
The Austrian said he would be all for standing restarts but it stressed any changes have to be written in the rulebook. He explained: “Discuss it with the FIA, [say] ‘let’s change the regulations, we want to have some really top last lap of racing’ – I’m lifting my hand for that. But it’s not what’s in the regulations today.
“Do we want to have a race finishing under green? And then we reverse engineer it from there? So you can say it’s five or 10 laps to the end, we have a Safety Car, let’s red-flag it and make sure we are racing at the end. If that’s in the regs, good!”
However, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl stressed that teams could not agree on changes at a meeting after last season’s finale. Lewis Hamilton lost the title in Abu Dhabi after the safety car was ended before lapped cars had overtaken.
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It allowed Max Verstappen to snatch the lead on fresh tyres to take the crown despite being 12 seconds behind just a handful of laps before. Brundle has hinted red flag stoppages needed to be justified but claimed the confusion at the end of the Italian Grand Prix would have
He added: “I must say though that for me a red flag means a very serious incident or something like a cloud burst and a waterlogged track. The red flag can be used as a tool to neutralise a race along with yellow flags, and one of two safety car options.
“But when the safety car picked up third place George Russell’s Mercedes rather than comfortable race leader Max Verstappen, with a bunch of backmarkers in between, then it really did fall apart. I must say seeing the cars file past a recovery vehicle and a suspended F1 car reversing down the track, albeit at safety car speeds, it would have been easy to justify a red flag stoppage.”
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