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F1 putting entertainment before safety, says Hamilton

NEWS STORY
14/09/2020

While Italy, for the second successive weekend, provided a Grand Prix that will be talked about for some, the fact is that - not for the first time - the sport came perilously close to a disaster.

Though absolved of any blame for the crash at the restart, Valtteri Bottas' actions at the front of the field as he attempted to fend off his teammate, were to lead to a 'perfect storm', and no sooner had the leaders crossed the startline than it happened.

Waiting his moment to unleash the W11, and with Hamilton filling his left-hand mirror, Bottas backed the field up. However, because the lights on the safety car did not go out until the final corner of the lap the field was more bunched up than usual and the world champion believes this was instigated in an attempt to spice up the action.

"It was absolutely not Valtteri’s fault," he told reporters, "it’s the decision makers that are trying to make it more exciting.

“Today it put people at risk," he continued, "perhaps they need to rethink that. They have been moving switching off the safety car lights later and later and later. We are fighting for position.

"They are trying to make it more exciting but today was a little bit over the limit but Valtteri did exactly what anybody would do.”

Hamilton's comments come days after F1 MD, Ross Brawn, clearly inspired by events at Monza, suggested now is a good time to think about introducing reverse grids. Again, a means of spicing up the show and a move which has been widely condemned by fans, drivers and team bosses.

Asked directly if he thought safety was being compromised in a bid to spice up the show, the Briton said: "I don't know... I need to think about it and I don't want to overstep the mark.

"I know the fans were excited with the last race with the re-start and everything," he continued, "and it seems if there is a piece of paper on the track they are going to put the red flag out and do a re-start and I can understand why and that it's exciting.

"Ultimately these races can get boring when everyone strings out and there are such big gaps between everyone," he admitted. "They do it in NASCAR. They put out the yellow flag all the time and safety cars, whatever, all the time to keep the race exciting.

"But they need to take into account the safety aspect. Today was not particularly safe with the re-start. You could almost see that coming. I am sure they will learn from it and we'll move together as a sport."

"Our team opened up the discussion this morning before the race that it is a bit of a concern here," said Bottas, referring to the fact that over the course of the weekend, across the various support races, the lights on the safety car had been going off later and later. "But they said basically they are going to keep doing it because it is better for the show.

"We are allowed to race from the control line, which has been there for a while," he added, referring to the rule. "The difference this year is they are putting the safety car lights off quite late so you can only build the gap pretty late on.

"So in the lead you try to maximise your chances and I'm not at all to blame for that. I was doing consistent speed until I went. Yes, I went late, but we start racing from the control line, not before that. So the guys behind who crashed because of that, they can look in the mirror. There is no point whining about it.

"I don't know who decides what happens with the safety cars, FIA or F1, but they are trying to make the show better by turning the lights off later so you can't build the gap earlier and then go like hell the corner before the race start and down the main straight. Maybe it's time to think if that's right and safe to do so."

"When you put the control line so far in front and then also leave the lights so late, it is pretty obvious where Valtteri is going to take off," said Alex Albon. "He is going to take off as late as he can, and I imagine the midfield know where Valtteri is going to go and are also going to try to get a slingshot.

"Then if Valtteri doesn't go when they think he is going to go, that is when the concertina happens. It's dangerous but it's predictable.

"The top five were almost doing a double-formation start because we are all waiting for the take off. It's dangerous. Tracks like this are always going to be difficult with the long straights. But definitely something could have been done better."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by jcr, 14/09/2020 18:32

"Thank you Spartacus,
At least now it is being lookat at.
"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Rock Doc, 14/09/2020 16:15

"Having watched the pre-race and the race to me the re-start incident was one of simply having no previous track data to go by.

Martin Brundle outlined the issue very early on and it looks like Merc's picked up on it as well. It really had nothing to do with the safety car. Bottas would have done the same if the car had turned off the lights 3 corners before.

The problem was that the other drivers were on auto-pilot and are so used to the leaders bolting for it way before the line. If there had been info from previous years the back-markers would have been aware that this was the tactic the front runners would use.

It was not Bottas's fault or the FIA's fault, but rather the fault of the teams not preparing their drivers of this likelyhood.

I'm notsure why Hamilton has to think he needs to be heard on every subject at the moment."

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3. Posted by Spartacus, 14/09/2020 15:42

"First and foremost I would second JCR comments and would like to add more however I will hold my reserve.

My take on the catastrophic restart, looks like to me it was a logistical error of the FIA and communication from the teams to their drivers. It seems the safety car was turning off the lights so late (In the middle or right after the last corner) which is a big problem that Valteri had no time or space before the start line to stage the restart. The cars in the rear didn't know if the race has started or not so they went, running into the cars in front. From my understanding: The race cannot start until the lights are out on the safety car and it has pulled off track, The lights on the track indicate green and there is no overtaking until you cross the start line. Really it starts when the lead car accelerates to the start line and the previous have taken place. So in this case since the lights were going off very late, this caused the confusion.

I really have not seen this safety car issue before, have any of you? This restart topic must have been brought up during the driver's meeting and obviously race control thought this out or at least I would have hoped they would have."

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4. Posted by jcr, 14/09/2020 14:22

"As a follower of F! as a branch of motorsport,
I find it very disturbing that The FIA seem to allow Hamilton to use it as His own personal platform.
Every one agrees with the end racism theme,
But when it extends to Slagging off the American Police force,
That is taking it to another level completely.
I always thought it was FIA policy, not to allow political agendas."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by nmw01223, 14/09/2020 10:21

"Make every safety car restart a standing start. The clutches seem to be up to it."

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6. Posted by Esplen, 14/09/2020 8:23

"I’m struggling to recall has anyone been injured in F1 in the last 5 years?"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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