FIA race director Michael Masi has declared as "offensive" comments from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas that safety is being compromised for the sake of entertainment.
Following his victory in the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton voiced concerns that Formula 1's decision-makers were putting the lives of the drivers at risk.
The six-time F1 champion's comments followed a race that was twice red-flagged, and pertained in particular to the safety car restart early on which led to a multi-car pile-up on the start-finish straight.
Hamilton suggested the lights on the safety car were being switched off "later and later", and as a consequence "they are trying to make it more exciting but this was probably a little bit over the limit perhaps".
The Mercedes driver's remarks were echoed by team-mate Valtteri Bottas who said that "they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights [off] later".
Masi, however, was left dismayed by the opinions. When asked if the FIA was spicing up the show at the expense of safety, he dismissively replied: "Absolutely not! From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount, full stop, and that's the end of the story.
“In my capacity as the race director and safety delegate, point blank, that’s where my role sits as to sporting integrity and safety. And anyone that says otherwise is actually quite offensive, personally."
Responding to the 'late' nature of the safety car lights, Masi highlighted a similar situation that took place in F3 without the drama of the F1 race.
"Simply put, they [the drivers] can criticise all they want," asserted Masi. "If we have a look from a distance perspective, from where the lights were extinguished to the control line, it's probably not dissimilar, if not longer, than a number of other venues.
"At the end of the day, the safety car lights go out where they do, the safety car is in the pit lane.
"We have the 20 best drivers in the world, and as we saw in the Formula 3 race, those drivers in the junior category had a very, very similar restart to what was occurring in the F1 race and navigated it quite well, without incident."
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