Drivers critical of Melbourne officiating


Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris are among the drivers critical of what they feel is the overuse of red flags.

Ever since the controversy of Abu Dhabi 2021 there has been a fear that the sport's powers that be prefer to restart races, as opposed to allowing the field to continue behind the Safety Car or under the VSC, thereby giving the potential, a la Abu Dhabi, for a one or two lap sprint to the chequered flag.

In the eyes of the drivers that appeared to be the case today.

"I was surprised with all the red flags, to be honest" said Fernando Alonso, who was 'eliminated' at the controversial second restart, "because the first one, I think, was because of a Williams in Turn 6. But we went through there one lap, I think, behind the Safety Car and there was a little bit of gravel, but nothing really too bad on track.

"But we never know in the car what's going on on the track itself," he added. "So apparently, maybe one barrier was not properly fit there, so I think the FIA has more information than us.

"If there is a red flag, it has to be for a reason," he continued. "We will ask probably in Baku what was the reason for the second? I know there was a piece of tyre debris in the first straight but the car itself was on the inside of Turn 4 so it felt quite safe there. And the safety car is for those kind of reasons so yeah, for us, maybe it was a different opinion. But as I said the FIA are the only ones that have all the cards on the table so in those kinds of situations, we trust them, and we try to keep them going."

"I just didn't understand why we needed a red flag," said race winner Max Verstappen. "I think if you would have had a Safety Car and then just had a normal rolling start we wouldn't have had all these shunts and then you have a normal finish. So they created the problems themselves at the end of the day."

Many believe that the sport's powers that be seek the restarts because they mean a more controversial, exciting show for the new Drive to Survive generation of fans.

"The whole point of red-flagging, it feels like it was just to put on a show," said Lando Norris. "We've gone all the way to Australia, put in so much hard work, drive 56 laps perfectly, and because they try and put on a show... you can just get unlucky and everything can get taken away from you all of a sudden. I just think it needs a small rethink.

"I don't like the restarts," he admitted. "I guess maybe in the first quarter of the race I understand it, but the second half and especially with four laps to go, I feel like you ruin a lot of things.

"I doubt they're going to change anything," he sighed. "I don't feel maybe the second to last red flag was needed. I don't know, I don't see everything. But from what I could see in the car, I didn't feel like it was needed. I felt like it was just a 'four laps to go, don't want to finish under Safety Car' kind of thing, and it just caused a bad end to the race. So, I think if we'd just finished behind the Safety Car, it would have been a bit more straightforward.

"At the end of the day, I know it is a show, but we're not here to just put on a good show, we want to race each other and be fair, and I don't think it's fair for everyone."

"I thought the red flag was totally unnecessary," said George Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. "There was obviously quite a bit of gravel on the track, but there was a clear racing line. We've seen it far worse in the past.

"It's sort of reminiscent of the decision of last week in Saudi to bring out the safety car when the car was totally off the track," he added.

"I don't really know what's going on with some of the decisions at the moment," he admitted. "We're all trying to work together with the FIA to improve things, but it's seemingly a bit of a challenge."

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Article from Pitpass (

Published: 04/04/2023
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