How would F1 have dealt with no cars on the grid?

The resumption of the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix delivered one of the most bizarre race starts in Formula 1 history.

How would F1 have dealt with no cars on the grid?

On the rapidly drying Hungaroring track, world champion and pole position man Lewis Hamilton was the only driver who elected not to dive into the pits to change from intermediates to slicks.

His Mercedes team had been worried that, with the team having the first box in the pitlane, coming in to swap tyres would have left Hamilton trapped after the tyre change and unable to get back out until the whole field had gone through.

While he would have regained some spots as others ahead of him would subsequently have had to wait, the fear was that he would still be dropped well into the midfield pack. It's why the team took the gamble on sticking with the inters.

So as Hamilton was told to carry on and everyone else came in, it meant the Briton formed up completely alone on the starting grid.

Once he was stationary and the medical car was in place at the back of the grid, then the lights procedure went ahead as normal – and he was unleashed for an unchallenged run down to Turn 1.

Hamilton's single car start was the sparsest grid start F1 has witnessed since the infamous United States Grand Prix in 2005 when all the Michelin runners pulled out and only six Bridgestone-shod cars took the lights.

But one of the most intriguing aspects about Hamilton's start was that it was not inconceivable that the Mercedes driver could have pitted as well, meaning that no cars formed up the grid.

It's a scenario that has never happened in grand prix racing before, but F1 race director Michael Masi said that he was clear in his head about what would have occurred in the event that the FIA had to deal with a zero car grid.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

"Once the last car was in pitlane, the start signal would have been initiated," he explained.

"Then once that went off, the green light at pit exit would have come on and it would have been the order from pitlane exit."

In terms of the spectacle at home, the normal starting procedure would still take place, so the five red lights would still go through their regular sequence before going out even though there was nobody there to react to them.

Masi added: "Christian [Bryll, F1's official race starter] would have activated the start lights, as per normal once the last car was in pitlane.

"The start lights would have been activated, five red lights, red lights go out, once the red lights have gone out the pit exit would have opened.

"It would be irrespective [of the pit stops taking place], because effectively the race from our side, or the resumption, hasn't recommenced until that point."

While the unique Hungarian GP start will secure a place in F1's history books, Masi says that the lessons from it could prompt a more formal tweaking of the F1 sporting regulations to cover off the circumstances of a no-car start.

"It's something no one could ever have really foreseen, but we'll let things calm down and have a chat about it in the light of day with all of the sporting directors," he said.

"But having spoken to some of them already up and down some of them have already said, 'was it really a bad thing?...'"

shares
comments

Related video

Leclerc thought Stroll move 'unrealistic' as Ferrari rues 'stupid' accident
Previous article

Leclerc thought Stroll move 'unrealistic' as Ferrari rues 'stupid' accident

Next article

Pourchaire set for F1 test debut with Alfa Romeo

Pourchaire set for F1 test debut with Alfa Romeo
Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

A testing return to the Singapore Grand Prix in tricky conditions created plenty of hazards and mistakes for the Formula 1 drivers to fall into. That partly explains a number of low scores, including from a handful of high profile runners, allowing others to take a starring role under the floodlights

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in F1's 2022 Singapore GP Plus

The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in F1's 2022 Singapore GP

In a marathon Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s victory was only assured hours after the race due to a stewards investigation. Throughout the contest the Red Bull driver impressively held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in changing conditions to see the Mexican pull out enough of an advantage to negate his post-race penalty

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams Plus

The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams

What happens, asks MATT KEW, if the old adage of win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday is no longer true for F1 manufacturers?

Formula 1
Oct 2, 2022
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022