Following the finish of the Tuscany Grand Prix, FIA Racing Director Michael Masi answered a number of questions related to the Mugello incidents…
Q: Riders like it when the edges of the track are determined by gravel traps, and not by electronic sensors – is it possible to do this on all stationary circuits?
Michael Massey: No, it is impossible to arrange them everywhere. I have said more than once that on each track we must look for the most suitable solution and negotiate it with the owners of the circuit. This work continues, we are discussing this issue with the riders. But applying such a solution will not work everywhere.
Q: Who is to blame for the crashes at the restart when the safety car left the track – the drivers who were driving too slowly in front, or those who were driving too fast behind?
Michael Massey: The stewards continue to investigate, trying to figure it out. I will not speculate about who is to blame. It is more important to draw the right conclusions after all this. On Friday, at the briefing of the pilots, it was explained in detail how the drivers should operate, and we reminded them of two main points.
First, they must not overtake the safety car to the safety car line located at the entrance to the pit lane. The second point was somewhat unusual, it is associated with the peculiarity of this particular track: the control line, after which you can overtake, is located closer to the exit from the pit lane.
This should not be surprising, we see a similar configuration in Baku, where the control line is also preceded by a long straight line, and the leader has every right to dictate the pace. Bottas drove rather slowly, trying to prevent the cars following him from taking advantage of the slipstream.
Question Continuing the topic: why were only some of the riders called to the stewards, and not all?
Michael Massey: The stewards call the riders, because during the investigation they study all the available data, all the recordings made by the on-board cameras of all cars. I am not a steward and cannot comment on the progress of the investigation.
Question: Can you explain how the restart procedure takes place under the current rules?
Michael Massey: Sure! There are three important phases, in the first of them we inform all teams via the messaging system that the safety car will leave the track on this lap. The teams pass this on to their riders. At the next phase, at a certain point, which is different on each track, the signals go out on the scoreboard indicating that the safety car is on the track, but the yellow flags still remain.
As soon as he leaves the track, the yellow flags are removed and a green flag appears, but only on the control line. Here are the main things to know about these three phases.
Q: Can you somehow react to the comments of the riders, sounded at the press conference after the finish, that the signals on the safety car went out too late?
Michael Massey: They can criticize as much as they like. In terms of distance, the distance between the point at which the lights on the safety car go out and the reference line is about the same as on other tracks, if not longer. In any case, the safety car signals went out when he turned into the pit lane.
We have twenty of the best riders in the world, but at the same time in the Formula 3 race, which took place in the morning, there was a very similar situation with the restart, but the young people figured it out very well and went without incident.
Q: Will the restart rule be revised after what happened today?
Michael Massey: There is no need to revise it.
Question: Then why do you think there was this accident involving several cars?
Michael Massey: I think a combination of factors led to this. But I will not express my personal considerations before we know the decision of the stewards. However, there is no doubt that one of these factors is the long start-finish straight. However, the race only starts after the control line. All riders knew perfectly well that there could be no overtaking to this line. There is nothing new in this rule.
Q: Don’t you think that the last few weeks of the race too often stopped with red flags? Is there a certain tendency, or is it all just a coincidence?
Michael Massey: Of course, this is primarily a coincidence. Logically speaking, the situation at Monza was simple: the barriers were badly damaged and needed to be restored. Of course, you can drive 20 laps for the safety car while the barrier is being repaired, but it seems to me that such a decision does not meet anyone’s interests.
It is for the same reason that today’s race was stopped after the accident of Lance Stroll, because the conveyor belt around the tire barrier was damaged for 30 or even 40 meters.
Question: Which restart option is safer: on the move behind the safety car or on the move?
Michael Massey: To be honest, both options are equally safe. We have the ability to give a start from a place, on the move, behind a safety car – there are different options. In my opinion, some people are just trying to analyze some particular moments, although there is nothing in common between these episodes.
Q: Sebastian Vettel after the race said that those who were restarts were on the dirty side of the track, were in a very disadvantageous position. Is there any solution to avoid this?
Michael Massey: The practice of running and resting restarts began long before I came to work at the FIA, but the fact is that when the race was interrupted for the first time, intensive work was done on the asphalt cleaning at the start and finish line.
I agree, we can say that all this happened outside the racing trajectory, but this situation is no different from other moments during the weekend, including from the start of the race, when a layer of used rubber is basically only on the racing trajectory.
Q: Do you think the DRS area was properly organized?
Michael Massey: We always try to answer this question after each race. We are trying to understand whether something needs to be corrected, so it’s too early to talk about something, but judging by the preliminary conclusions that we made on Friday, everything is quite good on this track. Now we will analyze everything once again, and if it is necessary to do something, then we will return to this question.
Q: Are you trying to exacerbate the intrigue of the race by sacrificing safety for the sake of entertainment?
Michael Massey: Definitely not. From the FIA point of view, safety comes first. Point. I, as the race director, together with the FIA delegate, oversee the observance of the rules and the safety. And anyone who claims otherwise is actually insulting us.