‘Was the Italian GP a just result, in the way Abu Dhabi wasn’t? Yes’

Michelle Foster
Safety Car out at Monza from TV. Italy September 2022

Safety Car out at Monza from TV. Italy September 2022

Ending the Italian Grand Prix behind the Safety Car, Ted Kravitz says Max Verstappen’s win was a “just result” – unlike his 2021 victory at the title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP.

Sunday’s 53-lap grand prix at Monza turned into a damp squib after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren suffered an oil leak, his MCL36 grinding to a halt on the side of the track.

It took Race Control a few minutes to decide a Safety Car was required, Verstappen leading the race at the time by some 16 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Just about everyone in the paddock and in the crowd held their breath for a grandstand finish, but it was not to be.

With the marshals unable to push Ricciardo’s car to safety, a crane was needed to clear the stationary McLaren – and all the while the laps counted down.

Time ran out for the race to be restarted, Verstappen winning behind the Safety Car with Leclerc second and George Russell P3 for Mercedes.

Both Red Bull and Ferrari have voiced their displeasure with how the race ended – but it was, under the rules clarified after last year’s Abu Dhabi finale, done to the letter of the law.

Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion, told his fellow Sky Sports F1 presenters: “There will be people watching saying ‘is that what should have happened in Abu Dhabi?'”

Kravitz was quick to reply: “Yes, it was.”

Unlike in 2021, when then race director Michael Masi allowed only some cars to unlap themselves to set up a final-lap showdown, at Monza the race director followed the letter of the law.

Kravitz explained: “The FIA’s view on it – they hoped to recover the car quicker, but doing it takes time.

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

“If there is a question, it’s about the lost lap 50, why the green light was not shown earlier to Russell, especially as his Mercedes team were saying they think he can go by.

“Was the race director playing it steady? Yes. Could he be quicker? Yes.

“Was it a just result, in the way Abu Dhabi wasn’t? Yes, it was a just result.”

Fellow presenter Karun Chandhok agreed the race director did what the rules state.

“Procedurally, the race directors did everything right – they followed the rulebook, no question about it,” he said.

But he added: “My personal view is in light of what happened in Abu Dhabi, if we have an incident in the last five laps it becomes an automatic red flag with a standing start.

“I think for all of us, it was a little bit of an anti-climactic finish.”

Read more: Lewis Hamilton makes Abu Dhabi jibe after Monza Safety Car controversy
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