Why F1’s red-flagged Azerbaijan GP was restarted for two racing laps
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A dramatic sixth round of the 2021 season in Baku was halted after a sudden tyre blow out for Max Verstappen sent the Red Bull driver spinning off into a high-speed with the barriers on Lap 46 of the 51-lap race.Following an initial Safety Car period, the race was red-flagged on Lap 48 in order to clear up the debris. After a half-an-hour delay, a decision was taken to restart the race via a standing start, which led to a frantic two-lap dash to the chequered flag.If a stoppage occurs with more than 75% distance completed, F1 has the option to declare races over, while events have also finished under Safety Car conditions in the past, most recently at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.“For a number of years now, we’ve had the race suspension regulations,” Masi said.“So going back many, many years ago, was when a race was red flagged after a certain distance, it would go back two laps and so forth.“But obviously with the race suspension element, yes there is an option to not restart, but within the timeframe and within the format of the regulations, we can restart, and there was no reason not to.”While Verstappen’s prompted a red flag, only a Safety Car was considered necessary following Lance Stroll’s nearly identical, high-speed accident earlier in the race.Related ArticlesaccImages.createImage(); Wolff left “destroyed” by Mercedes’ ‘unacceptable’ performanceaccImages.createImage(); Five winners and five losers from F1’s Azerbaijan GP2822832.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();“In the middle of the race, there was more than enough time, space, on the right-hand side of the track when we were recovering it,” Masi explained.“And I was confident with the way that that could be cleared up in that fashion.“When looking at everything, we weren’t confident that the recovery on the pit straight and the amount of debris that was everywhere could be cleared up in the appropriate time.“So we thought it was in the best interest of the sport to suspend and then restart in that circumstance.”After the race, the top three drivers on the podium suspected the decision to restart for a two-lap sprint was based more on the entertainment factor.Related ArticlesaccImages.createImage(); Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP F1 race lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branchaccImages.createImage(); Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP F1 race lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branch“It has become more and more like this in the past, more and more focused on creating a show, so I hope that in the future the races are more exciting,” said Sebastian Vettel, who scored his first podium for Aston Martin.“I think today was probably an exciting race for various things happening and so on, but yeah, I think we just need to watch out that it doesn’t become too artificial and we don’t lose the roots of the sport.”2823267.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();After claiming his third career podium finish, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly joked:“The Americans took over so I wasn’t really surprised that we go first with the entertainment.“No, I was quite happy. It always brings a bit more excitement. If anything, hopefully in the future they will do the same.””4Meanwhile, race-winner Sergio Perez called for consistency to be applied in similar scenarios in the future.“In Imola we didn’t do it, we didn’t have the standing start but I think it was a bit unfair with the rain there, the right hand side of the track was damp,” he added.“As long as we keep it consistent, going forward, it certainly helps the fans to be sticking to the TV. I think they have the most enjoyable two laps of the race. And they certainly made it very hard for me.””5A message between Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley and Masi was broadcast during the Safety Car period in which Wheatley suggested the race should be stopped.But Masi said that message did not trigger the red flag, revealing he was already thought a suspension was the best course of action to clean up the debris and enable the field to switch tyres.“To be fair, it was actually already on my mind,” Masi said.“But obviously, from the perspective of what we communicate, we communicate to everyone equally, and looking with the number of laps that we had to go, the recovery that was being undertaken, and the fact that there was so much debris on the pit straight at that point.“In my judgement, it was the best option to suspend the race, clean everything up, and then have a race finish.””6
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