Masi dismisses Verstappen's safety car claim

12/10/2020
NEWS STORY

Race director, Michael Masi has defended the use of the safety car during Sunday's Eifel Grand Prix, after Max Verstappen had suggested the move was to 'spice up' the race.

While George Russell's retirement on lap 12 of Sunday's Grand Prix only necessitated the briefest of deployments of the Virtual Safety Car, when Lando Norris parked his McLaren on lap 42, the race director deployed the safety car proper.

As the field continued behind the AMG Mercedes, a number of drivers, most notably Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, complained that running so slowly behind the safety car was compromising their grid due to the already cold conditions. As the field continued for five laps behind the vehicle, Verstappen even suggested that the field was being deliberately bunched-up in a bid to spice-up the race.

"I just didn't understand why the Safety Car was out for so long," said the Red Bull driver after the race. "The car was cleared.

"I understand they want to bunch up the field," he added, "but it's pretty dangerous with these cars when the tyres are so cold. We'll look into that."

Race director, Michael Masi subsequently explained that the reason for the length of the safety car period was because all the drivers up to fifth-placed Carlos Sainz had been lapped, and the lapped drivers had to un-lap themselves.

"There's a requirement in the sporting regulations, to wave all lapped cars past," said the Australian. "So I think from that point, it was position 6 onwards that was still running. So 10, 11 cars had to un-lap themselves, and therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected."

As to why the safety car was deployed at all, when Norris had parked beside a marshal's post and in the eyes of many race fans constituted no threat, Masi said: "Lando's car had some smoke and fire, so that was one point. The other was, at first glance, we weren't confident that the car could actually be recovered into the opening that was there, due to the tightness of it.

"So rather than having to react along the way, it was determined to go for a safety car, that way it could be dealt with all at once immediately."

On the other hand, the deployment of the safety car, at one fell stroke eliminated Lewis Hamilton's 10s lead and did indeed bunch up the remainder of the field.

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Nurburgring, here.

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Published: 12/10/2020
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