Allegations the FIA risked the safety of its drivers with the timing of the first safety car restart in Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix are unfounded and “offensive”, according to race director Michael Masi.
The biggest incident in a mayhem-filled grand prix, four cars were eliminated amid drivers applying what the FIA termed “inconsistent application of throttle and brake” at the restart, while drivers alleged it was a result of the FIA not giving them enough warning the safety car would be coming in.
“They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen it put people at risk,” race winner Lewis Hamilton said afterwards, with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas adding that such a scenario had been discussed prior to the race, “but they said basically they’re going to keep doing it because it’s better for the show.”
Asked about the remarks, Masi took the defensive.
“From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount, full stop. End of story,” he said to RaceFans. “In my capacity as the race director and safety delegate, point blank, that’s where my role sits as the sporting integrity and safety.
“And anyone that says otherwise is actually quite offensive.”
Masi went on to explain that the forewarning the drivers received was by no means later than usual.
“They can criticise all they want. 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 at a number of other venues.
“At the end of the day, the Safety Car lights go out where they do, the Safety Car is in pit lane, we have the 20 best drivers in the world, and as we saw earlier today 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.”