Toto Wolff casts his verdict on chaotic restart endings at Australian Grand Prix

Thomas Maher
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso spun at the Australian GP restart. April 2023.

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso gets spun at the restart of the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has no issues with how the rules were applied for the closing laps of the chaotic Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Australian Grand Prix was red-flagged on three separate occasions, starting off with a stoppage on Lap 7 due to debris on track following Alex Albon crashing his Williams at Turn 6.

With three laps remaining, the red flag was shown again after Kevin Magnussen ripped his right-rear wheel off exiting Turn 2, scattering carbon fibre across the racing line as he sparked his way to a stop.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato

The ensuing standing start resulted in utter carnage with several collisions that saw the two Alpines collide, Logan Sargeant hit Nyck de Vries, as well as Fernando Alonso being spun around by Carlos Sainz.

Chaos ensues as FIA decide on restart order

Another red flag was inevitable but, with only one lap remaining, there was plenty of confusion over how to determine the restart order to finish the final lap behind the Safety Car. In the end, the FIA chose to resume in the same order as the previous restart, obviously minus the cars that had been damaged beyond participation.

This allowed Alonso to resume the race in third place, as well as saving Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez as they went off-track on the previous restart.

Reflecting on the chaotic ending to the Australian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff had no complaints about how the rules were interpreted by Race Control. recommends

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“We looked it up – it was the rulebook. It was a bit confusing but it was like it’s written down,” he told media, including, in the Melbourne paddock on Sunday evening.

“Obviously, these results like this are good for some teams and bad for others but, if you throw a red flag and you have a crash with a lap to go…”

Toto Wolff is satisfied as long as interpretations are clear

With George Russell losing out due to the initial red flag due to having pitted under the initial Safety Car as the then-race leader, Wolff said he had no complaints about how the red flags were deployed. The Mercedes team boss pointed out that, as long as the situation is clear for all, then he would enjoy the entertainment factor such restarts provide.

“Both red flags, we didn’t see them coming,” he said.

“I think restarts are great and a great entertainment factor. We just need to understand, going forward, when are red flags being put out and what is the Safety Car or VSC [Virtual Safety Car].

“I think those incidents, you could have applied either. I think why Formula 1 is so successful is because it’s sport and we follow the rulebook.

“But that gives great entertainment and I think, as long as it’s clear how this is being interpreted – I’m fine. Whether you call a VSC or Safety Car or you red flag it, as long as we understand in terms of us being able to plan a little bit, or having the same rules for everyone, then that’s OK!”

Wolff revealed he’d received a phone call from his wife at home, saying how thrilling the race had been as a spectator.

“I just got a call from Susie – she said that was great entertainment in the early morning on a Sunday,” he said.

“I don’t know whether it was, you know, we’re so in our little bubble here looking at laptimes!”