The Formula 1 safety car ‘winning’ the 2022 Italian Grand Prix was a huge disappointment for everyone – including Martin Brundle – and since then launched massive debate about what happened on Sunday afternoon at Monza.
Even winners Red Bull and Max Verstappen insisted that victory behind the safety car was not the way they like to win races, the Tifosi felt the same way as did just about everyone. But rule are rules as they say.
What happened on the day was by the F1 rules and now, in retrospect, the fact that with six laps to go they could not restart the race because of a series of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, call it fate or bad luck.
Our own TeamTalk shed light on how to prevent such disappointing outcomes, and here Sky F1 pundit Brundle offers his post-Monza analysis of the unhappy ending: “For me a red flag means a very serious incident or something like a cloud burst and a waterlogged track.
“The red flag can be used as a tool to neutralise a race along with yellow flags, and one of two safety car options. But when the safety car picked up third place George Russell’s Mercedes rather than comfortable race leader Max Verstappen, with a bunch of backmarkers in between, then it really did fall apart.
“I must say seeing the cars file past a recovery vehicle and a suspended F1 car reversing down the track, albeit at safety car speeds, it would have been easy to justify a red flag stoppage,” ventured Brundle.
Perhaps the former F1 driver turned TV pundit was alluding to the tragedies that struck F1 when Jules Bianchi died as a result of an operational forklift on the side of the track and also in Canada when marshall Mark Robinson was killed during the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.
Begging the questions: Has F1 learnt from those terrible lessons? Should races be red flagged when a heavy-duty recovery vehicle is on track for whatever reason?
Ricciardo’s stubborn McLaren triggered a catalogue of problems which ruined the end
Brundle continued: “Instead, for only the thirteenth time if F1 history a race was ended at low speed behind the safety car. It was not the FIA’s finest event. It’s such a short race there anyway due to the high average speeds, and the fans would have deserved a thriller at the restart.
“And then on lap 47 of 53 the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, who was having a better run than of late at a track where he of course won last year, broke down at the side of the track.
“What followed was a catalogue of problems which ruined the end of the race, not that Leclerc was going to catch Verstappen it must be said. Sainz may have had a look at Russell for the final spot on the podium.
“It was painful to watch. The McLaren was stuck in gear so couldn’t be wheeled away after Daniel struggled to find a decent service opening. It’s an old-school track with poor service road access, and eventually a mobile crane arrived to scoop it up.
“There has been an initiative discussed whereby, in the final five laps of a race, if there’s an issue of this kind then throw the red flag and have a standing start re-start. We saw this in Azerbaijan last year and it does make for great anticipation and a thrilling finale to a race,” concluded Brundle on the matter.
The FIA and F1 team bosses reportedly met in the wake of the Monza weekend, to discuss the matter but no information has been forthcoming from such a get-together if indeed it did happen.