Why F1 mechanics couldn’t get back on the grid in Italian GP aborted start

A problem with the LED display board alongside the Formula 1 starting lights at the Italian Grand Prix stopped mechanics returning to their cars during the delayed start, Autosport understands. 

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

The Monza race eventually got going over 20 minutes after its scheduled start time due to a series of issues triggered by Yuki Tsunoda stopping on the initial warm-up lap as a result of a suspected MGU-H issue that AlphaTauri is still investigating. 

Following Tsunoda’s stoppage, the other drivers massed on the grid as they typically would for a standing start, before getting the order that the getaway was aborted and to complete another formation lap.

But when they returned to the grid, they were held for a very long time with no additional information on the starting gantry screen, only being informed of what was going on by their race engineers on the team radio channels. 

The second start attempt was also aborted as Tsunoda’s car was stuck in gear and could not be recovered quickly, which meant the teams would need to send their mechanics back to the cars to cool the engines and brakes, and warm the starting tyres with blankets. 

At the same time, the FIA timing information screen did not display that the second start would be aborted, with officials informing the teams instead on their radio channels. 

Autosport sources indicate that the mechanics could not then get onto the grid through the Monza pitlane’s main gate near the head of the pack because the LED screen not displaying the second aborted start meant security officials were reluctant to open the gates without ensuring the right protocol was being followed. 

Understandably, the view was taken that it was better to open the gate too late rather than too early, given that had something gone awry the cars might have been running near people entering what remained an essentially live track. 

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

But two mechanics were so concerned they climbed over the pitwall to try and reach their cars before waiting for the rest to be allowed onto the grid, which soon happened. 

Once the gate was opened and the mechanics flooded back onto the grid, the start procedure was reset and commenced with a typically communicated five-minute warning message. 

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During the eventual start, the full set of lights were barely all on before the pack was finally given permission to launch, with polesitter Carlos Sainz successfully seeing off the attentions of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at Turn 1. 

Verstappen eventually pressured Sainz into wearing his tyres and making a small mistake, before going on to seize his record-setting 10th F1 win in succession.

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