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Russell reveals extensive safety car review in Abu Dhabi aftermath

Russell reveals extensive safety car review in Abu Dhabi aftermath

F1 News

Russell reveals extensive safety car review in Abu Dhabi aftermath

Russell reveals extensive safety car review in Abu Dhabi aftermath

George Russell has revealed the extent of the safety car review in the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy last season.

F1's debate over safety car protocols has been reignited by the anti-climactic ending to the Italian Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen led home a neutralised field.

Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren was stuck between the two Lesmos and with marshals unable to move the MCL36, a crane was needed to clear the track.

It took some time to call the safety car, then further delays to move the car as well. This was before Russell was picked up by Bernd Maylander, not Verstappen.

The delays continued as cars were released and with all procedures being followed as per the regulations by FIA race control, the race finished under safety car conditions.

Criticism was levelled at the race direction by Red Bull and Ferrari team principals Christian Horner and Mattia Binotto, with the Italian suggesting F1 'deserves better' from its governing body.

But Russell has defended Niels Wittich and the weekend's officials, insisting: "You can't extend the race."

Last year's season finale caused controversy when then-race director Michael Masi went against protocols to set up a last-lap shootout between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, in which the Dutchman would emerge victorious.

"Following Abu Dhabi, we had some discussions about races ending under the safety car. I think we looked at every single race since ’98 and it happened 10 times," explained Russell, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

"Maybe that's wrong, don't quote me on that but maybe it's worth looking at. But you can't extend the race without enough fuel so it’s just how it is."

Russell critical of Pirelli tyres

With Russell assessing the safety car ending at Monza as "just racing", the British driver added: "It’s obviously not always easy when the car stops in an awkward place.

"We always want to end a race under green flag but you know, what can you do?

"It's just how the game goes. And I don't know what the race picture looked like but I don't think it would have changed the result, either way."

Instead of criticising the lack of tyre degradation for the relative lack of excitement during the race, Russell reflected: "What is clear though, is these one-stop races, minimal tyre deg, they don't seem to offer that much of an exciting race – but I haven't obviously seen what the race was like behind us."

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