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Formula 1 Miami GP

F1 drivers urge FIA to avoid late standing restarts

Formula 1 drivers are pushing to have fewer grid restarts after red flags in the closing stages of races.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, the rest of the field at the start

The matter was discussed in Friday’s drivers’ briefing in Miami as part of the ongoing fallout over the chaotic final restart in Melbourne, when there were several accidents.

Many drivers feel that marbles on the grid in the closing laps create a disparity between the two sides of the grid, generating extra potential for incidents at the first corner.

One of the issues is that in Melbourne the grid wasn’t swept while the cars were waiting in the pitlane for the race resumption, which is a procedure originally voiced by former F1 race director Charlie Whiting from the earliest discussions about a move to grid restarts.

It’s understood that the FIA has now promised to ensure that the grid will be swept during future red flag delays.

Nevertheless, drivers are still not keen on having grid restarts late in races.

“I think we've all come to a good understanding,” said GPDA director George Russell when asked about the issue by Autosport.

“I think having a restart at the end of the race is challenging because there's a lot of marbles off-line.

“It gives quite an unfair chance for the guys on the inside on the dirty line, and the opportunity for more chaos and unfairness.

“So let's see where we move to. But I think all 20 drivers wouldn't like standing starts after a red flag with either 50 or 75% of the race completed.”

A marshal waves a red flag

A marshal waves a red flag

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The Melbourne controversy has already led to a change to the red flag resumption procedure in a quick response to the concerns of drivers about tyre warm-up before restarts.

In Azerbaijan, the FIA confirmed that the safety car will now depart early and give the drivers more freedom to warm-up their tyres on the way to the grid, although the new format was not required that weekend.

In Baku the safety car was to be given a 30-second head start, but that has changed to 60 seconds for Miami to ensure that the safety car cannot be caught by the pack. 

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It’s believed that the time will change race-by-race depending on the nature of the track.

In another intriguing change, there is a new procedure for red flags caused by bad weather.

In the USA, the law requires major open air public events to stop if thunderstorms are in the area and there is a risk of people being struck by lightning.

For the three American races only if there is a red flag under such circumstances, for the safety of crews teams will be allowed to pull their cars into the garage rather than work on them in the pitlane.

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