Masi admits starting Q3 at Spa was a mistake

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has admitted that letting Q3 go ahead at the Belgian Grand Prix was the wrong decision, after Lando Norris crashed in atrocious conditions.

Masi admits starting Q3 at Spa was a mistake

Last weekend's Spa-Francorchamps event turned into a farcical three-lap race behind the safety car after heavy rain and poor visibility prevented F1 to get any green running in on Sunday.

The weather had already played havoc earlier in the weekend, when the W Series was shaken up by a six-car pile-up on Friday.

Saturday's F1 qualifying session was also disrupted by the weather. In worsening conditions, race control decided to let the final Q3 shootout go ahead, despite several warnings from drivers that the track was too wet to drive on.

Early into the session McLaren driver Norris had an enormous crash on the Eau Rouge/Raidillon combination after spinning off the track.

While Norris escaped unhurt, the decision to let the session go ahead prompted heavy criticism from Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, who was angry his radio calls to red flag the session - which his race engineer said had been transmitted to Masi - weren't listened to.

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Speaking on Sunday night race director Masi admitted that in hindsight he "probably wouldn't have started" the session.

"I spoke to a number of drivers [on Saturday] night to get their feedback and they gave me some very constructive feedback," Masi said.

"So yes, hindsight's an amazing thing. And based on what they told me, having experienced the conditions at this circuit and all of the rest of it, we probably wouldn't have started.

"But that's also a benefit of hindsight with them having driven on this circuit in those conditions, because each circuit is a bit different to the way the water comes off, with the way the tyres react, etcetera. You have to treat everything on its merits."

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Masi added the Raidillon crashes of the past few weeks, which also include a massive four-car accident in the Spa 24 Hours, didn't play on his mind during his decision making on Sunday.

"No, I think you learn from each and every day," he explained.

"And as I said earlier, having spoken to a number of the drivers [Saturday] night, particularly after having experienced the weather, and driving on the track, it gave them a good reference.

"They gave me some amazing feedback on what can and can't happen, which obviously helped my process for today and all of them that I spoke to were very willing to say 'this is the window of what we can and can't do', which was extremely helpful.

Despite Vettel's criticism, who also acknowledged "there's a lot of radio and you cannot be listening to everybody", Masi said live feedback from the drivers did play an important role on Sunday.

"What we've always done, and we encouraged during the formation laps the first time, is for the drivers to give us feedback over the radio, and we did that in Hockenheim in 2019, we did that in Turkey [in 2020], wherever," he added.

"Because obviously it's live feedback from them at that point in time of what they can and can't cope with based on that particular circuit."

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