Formula 1 race director Michael Masi is denying that Sunday’s standing restart with two laps to at the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was only for the show.
“The Americans took over so I wasn’t really surprised that the first thing is the entertainment,” said Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly, referring to Formula 1’s owners since 2017, Liberty Media.
At Baku, the race was red-flagged to clear the debris from Max Verstappen’s crash and to check the condition of the tires on the other competitors after Verstappen’s tire blowout. After a long delay, the race was re-started from a standing start with just two laps to go.
Gasly supports the decision.
“I must admit it was very intense but I really enjoyed it. If anything, hopefully in the future they will do the same,” Gasly said.
Eventual race winner Sergio Perez agrees, but only if the decision to re-start red-flagged races is “consistent.”
“It certainly helps the fans to be sticking to the TV,” Perez said.
But Sebastian Vettel thinks “more and more” decisions are being made in F1 for the show factor alone.
“I just think we need to watch out that it doesn’t become too artificial and we don’t lose the roots of the sport,” said the four-time world champion.
But even from the purist’s perspective, McLaren boss Andreas Seidl says the decision to re-start was correct.
“It doesn’t matter if there are 2, 10 or 20 laps to go, restarting is normally quite safe and we certainly saw two interesting laps,” Seidl said. “Even the standing re-start was the right decision, also in terms of entertainment. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone changed tires so I don’t see that there was any safety risk.”
Finally, when asked if Formula 1 was trading safety for entertainment with 2-lap restarted races, F1 race director Michael Masi rejected the charge.
“There is nothing in the regulations stipulating that a race cannot be restarted if circumstances permit,” he said. “And I saw no reason to end it with the red flag.”
What do you think? Should F1 have more standing restarts following red flags? Or, is that too American?
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