Masi refutes 'entertainment before safety' claims


FIA race director, Michael Masi has hit back at claims the sport is compromising safety for the sake of improving the show.

The claims follow yesterday's Tuscan Grand Prix, and in particular the initial rolling restart.

Based on examples in a number of the support races, and the Grand Prix itself, a number of drivers, including Mercedes pair, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, claim that the FIA is deliberately delaying putting out the lights on the safety car and thereby causing the field to bunch up, rather than allowing the race leader to freely dictate events, a situation which usually sees the leader catch his rivals on their back feet as he disappears into the distance.

"Absolutely not," Masi replied, when asked if entertainment is being put first. "From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount full stop. End of story.

"In my capacity as race director and safety delegate that's point blank where my role is," he added, "as sporting integrity and safety. And anyone who says otherwise is quite offensive personally.

"They can criticise all they want," her continued, "if we have a look at 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. The Safety Car lights go out where they do, the Safety Car goes into the pit lane.

"We have the twenty best drivers in the world, and as we saw earlier 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."

Of course, some might say that such a move has all the hallmarks of a certain poacher turned gamekeeper. Indeed, only a week ago, in the aftermath of Monza, Ross Brawn seized upon the events of the afternoon to suggest now would be a good time to reconsider reverse grid, a suggestion widely dismissed by fans and drivers alike.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Mugello, here.

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Published: 14/09/2020
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