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FIA explain safety car procedure leading to Russell pit-stop nightmare

FIA explain safety car procedure leading to Russell pit-stop nightmare

F1 News

FIA explain safety car procedure leading to Russell pit-stop nightmare

FIA explain safety car procedure leading to Russell pit-stop nightmare

FIA race director Michael Masi has explained the reasoning for initially deploying the virtual safety car before upgrading to a full safety car to clear the track following Jack Aitken's crash at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Aitken lost control of his Williams, akin to Alex Albon's incident in practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix a week earlier, knocking off his front wing before returning to the pits.

With the wing stranded on the racing line at the exit of the final corner, a VSC was deployed to try and recover debris safely, only for the full safety car to be deployed soon after, leading to Mercedes calamitously throwing away victory.

Masi explained the upgrade from virtual to full safety car was a decision taken in the interest of marshal safety.

"Obviously, there was the front wing which we saw," he said. "The original thought process was to go for a VSC to see if we had a gap big enough that could be created in that situation, time-wise.

"There wasn't, so accordingly we went for a full safety car so that the marshals could enter the track safely to not only collect the wing, but there was also some other resultant debris that needed to be swept off the racing line."

When trying to earn a free tyre-change, Mercedes mixed up George Russell's allocation with that of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, leaving the British driver with two of each on his car whilst the Finn was sent out on his original set of hard compound tyres after consternation in the pit box.

Mercedes was subsequently fined €20,000 for the error but given that Russell's four tyres were all of the same compound, Masi was asked why the regulations were written in such a way to penalise such a mistake.

"Ultimately, a competitor - in George's case here and with Mercedes - they drove out of the pitlane, realised their error and drove straight back in and rectified that immediately," Masi explained.

"However, in a broader sense, hypothetically, they could be using a 14th set or 15th set of tyres which then gives them a resultant sporting advantage so that would be my assumption as to why the regulations have been written the way they have."

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