Martin Brundle rues ‘catalogue of problems which ruined the end’ of the Italian GP

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

Safety Car out at Monza from TV. Italy September 2022

Martin Brundle says it would have been “easy to justify” red-flagging the Italian GP as the field past by Daniel Ricciardo’s swinging McLaren.

With Max Verstappen 16 seconds up the road from Charles Leclerc, romping towards a fifth win on the trot, Ferrari fans were given a brief glimmer of hope when Daniel Ricciardo caused a late Safety Car situation at Monza on Sunday.

But it was not to be, the grand prix finishing behind the Safety Car as the Race Director ran out of laps in part due to one too many problems, some caused by the FIA team themselves.

The marshals initially tried to push Ricciardo’s car to safety but it was stuck in gear so they had to call for the crane.

While that was going on the Safety Car picked up the wrong car as the race leader, the backmarkers overtook it and passed Ricciardo’s suspended McLaren to line up in the correct order with Verstappen in front.

Time ran out to get the race restarted, Verstappen taking the win ahead of Leclerc and George Russell.

There were mixed reaction to that, Christian Horner saying it went “against the principles” of what the teams wanted with Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto agreeing.

However, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff applauded the race director for following the rules “to the dot”, but says he would support changing the rules to prevent it happening again.

There have been suggestions that in future the race is red-flagged if there is an incident in the final five laps.

Brundle has weighed in, saying Monza was not the FIA’s “finest event”.

Writing in his latest Sky Sports column, the former F1 driver called it a “catalogue of problems which ruined the end of the race” making for an ending that was “painful to watch”.

He added: “There has been an initiative discussed whereby, in the final five laps of a race, if there’s an issue of this kind then throw the red flag and have a standing start re-start. We saw this in Azerbaijan last year and it does make for great anticipation and a thrilling finale to a race.

“I must say though that for me a red flag means a very serious incident or something like a cloud burst and a waterlogged track.

“The red flag can be used as a tool to neutralise a race along with yellow flags, and one of two Safety Car options.

“But when the Safety Car picked up third place George Russell’s Mercedes rather than comfortable race leader Max Verstappen, with a bunch of back markers in between, then it really did fall apart.

“I must say seeing the cars file past a recovery vehicle and a suspended F1 car reversing down the track, albeit at Safety Car speeds, it would have been easy to justify a red flag stoppage.

“Instead, for only the thirteenth time if F1 history a race was ended at low speed behind the Safety Car. It was not the FIA’s finest event. It’s such a short race there anyway due to the high average speeds, and the fans would have deserved a thriller at the restart.”

Read more: How Monza proved the FIA have learned from Abu Dhabi mistakes