Esteban Ocon said the signal for the Safety Car returning to the pits at the Tuscan GP came so late that he thought there was a mistake.
Valtteri Bottas as race leader had the power to dictate the pace of the pack and when he resumed the racing after the first SC period of the race, but as soon as he bolted down the straight a huge crash occurred in the midfield.
Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz were all eliminated from the race as a result, with Sainz suffering a bruised hand.
Several drivers spoke of the concertina effect of drivers accelerating and slowing down as being the cause of the incident, and 12 drivers were given formal warnings for their respective roles in the incident.
But Ocon said he was rather confused by the restart because of how late the Safety Car lights went out to signal that it would be returning to the pits and racing would resume.
The Renault driver had been running P10 at the time of the crash.
“Clearly the Safety Car lights got switched off a lot later than what we are used to in that race,” he is quoted by Racefans.net.
“From where I was sitting in the car I got told ‘Safety Car is in this lap’. But the guys were still driving like if there was another lap. So I thought maybe there was a misunderstanding with me and the team, maybe we are going for another lap. And actually, no, it wasn’t.”
Ocon was able to escape contact despite being included in the list of drivers who were given warnings, but he admitted that those behind him were also caught by surprise with the messy restart.
“We stayed for a very long time at slow speed,” he said.
“Obviously, there’s a short acceleration which increase from the back because the guys at the back are catching up more of a gap. So it’s a bit like traffic [on a] motorway.
“It caught everyone by surprise just behind me. I got lucky to not get hit in the back, but some didn’t unfortunately.”
Ocon would retire from the race with an issue related to overheating brakes.