FIA explain controversial Safety Car ending to the Italian Grand Prix

Sam Cooper
FIA Aston Martin Safety Car. Melbourne April 2022.

The bonnet of the FIA Aston Martin Safety Car. Australia April 2022.

The FIA have defended their decision to allow the Italian Grand Prix to finish behind the Safety Car by stating they were unable to put Daniel Ricciardo’s car into neutral.

The McLaren man lost power with six laps to go and pulled his car to the side of the road between the Lesmo corners. The Safety Car was brought out and stayed out until the end of the race as marshals were unable to clear the track in time for racing to resume.

There was much criticism from those within the paddock, with Red Bull’s Christian Horner stating the “fans were the biggest losers” while Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto criticised the stewards for lacking experience and said Formula 1 “deserved a better job”.

The FIA have issued a statement defending their actions by saying the inability to put the McLaren car into neutral was the main factor behind their decision.

“While every effort was made to recover car No 3 (Ricciardo’s) quickly and resume racing, the situation developed and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road,” the statement read.

“As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag, the race ended under the Safety Car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all competitors. The timing of the Safety Car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure.”

Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz said what had occurred at the end of the race should also have been what happened at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021.

The 2021 season finale ended in controversial circumstances as Safety Car procedures allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap and take the World Championship in the process.

While the ending at Monza was less consequential, it still had some up in arms about the procedures the FIA followed. But according to Kravitz, that is exactly what should have occurred as defined by the FIA’s rulebook.

“The marshals couldn’t push it (Daniel Ricciardo’s car) so the FIA hoped to recover the car quicker but doing that all takes time,” he said during Sky Sports F1’s broadcast.

“It’s important, the FIA say, that they get the cars to bunch up to allow the marshals the space to recover Ricciardo’s car without cars rushing past them and endangering the rescue workers. That’s why they said it took a while.

“Was the race director playing it steady? Yes. Could he be quicker? Yes. But was it really a just result in the way Abu Dhabi wasn’t? Yes, it was a just result.”

Kravitz also revealed there will be a meeting of the FIA and F1 team managers on Monday when they will discuss issues including the race operations centre in Geneva.