Why F1 drivers seemed "blindfolded" by Melbourne GPS issue

Haas's Kevin Magnussen has explained why it seemed Formula 1 drivers were "blindfolded" by the loss of GPS data during Australian Grand Prix FP1.


After 40 minutes the opening practice session at Melbourne's Albert Park was red-flagged due to a loss of GPS data, which meant teams could no longer track each other on around the circuit.

That problem, which was triggered by a glitch in the distribution of live tyre information, caused several near-misses on track as drivers no longer received traffic advisory calls from their team.

Before the red flag call, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda narrowly avoided plowing into a Ferrari in the sweeping second sector, while Aston Martin's Stroll caught a train of slow traffic that was unaware of his arrival.

Haas's Nico Hulkenberg was caught out by the cruising McLaren of Lando Norris in the final sector, locking up his brakes and skidding across the grass in the penultimate corner.

His team-mate Magnussen explained that drivers would have likely been fine if they had known in advance to rely on their own senses, but because some drivers were still expecting radio calls that weren't forthcoming the lack of information became a safety issue.

"It seemed like everyone was blindfolded once that GPS system went out," he said.

"I think it's also because we know that we're relying on engineers to tell where the traffic is.

"I don't think everyone knew that the GPS system was out, so when you don't hear anything then you expect that there's nothing coming.

"If we had known that we didn't have a GPS system, you'd be way more careful and just looking in your mirrors the whole time? And nobody was."

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

When quizzed about the Norris incident by Autosport, Hulkenberg said: "I think some drivers rely more on the engineers and the calls than others.

"And obviously, I think in a situation like today that's when you see the difference, I guess.

Hulkenberg did feel it was the correct decision to red flag the session, particularly because of the extra risk inherent to a street circuit featuring several blind approaches.

"I think it was right to do it and to fix it to fix the problem," he said.

"There's quite a few spots where it's like blind or you see a come a car come around quite late, which doesn't help and makes it a bit sketchy in a place like here or Jeddah or street circuits."

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