Alpine’s sporting director Alan Permane has called for Formula 1 to look into getting the current procedures in place correct first, before implementing a rule change which would see races red-flagged should an incident occur late on.
The comments come following the highly disappointing ending to the recent Italian Grand Prix, which finished behind the Safety Car due to Daniel Ricciardo retiring towards the end of the race.
The Aussie’s MCL36 came to a halt between the two Lesmos on Lap 47/53; however, marshals were unable to quickly push his car to safety due to it being stuck in gear.
This massively delayed the recovery process, as a tractor was needed to use its crane in order to lift the stricken McLaren to safety.
By the time Ricciardo’s car was in a safe place, Verstappen had just started the penultimate lap, meaning that under the rulebook the race had to finish behind the Safety Car.
Race director Niels Wittich faced a mixed response, with some having been disappointed with him not red flagging the race, whilst others, predominantly Mercedes, praised Wittich for following the rules.
Some members of the paddock have suggested that a rule should be introduced to ensure that races always finish with green flag racing, even if it means halting the race temporarily.
Permane thinks the idea of having potentially a short sprint to the line “doesn’t sound crazy”, but that it’s more important to get the Safety Car procedures “right”, before introducing new rules.
“It sounds like you have a six-lap sprint, everyone has fresh tyres and we go,” said Permane.
“There will be some unintended consequences but it’s happened before, we did it in Baku last year. I guess you can write that into the regs, it doesn’t sound crazy.”
“We’re here to put a show on and that was clearly wasn’t acceptable.
“It’s not an ideal finish at all. No one wants to finish under the Safety Car. It’s miserable. It’s really miserable for the fans.
“Maybe we don’t need to knee-jerk, to say every time it’s red-flagged within 50 kilometres of the end or something, you throw a red flag. Maybe we need to just make sure we get those Safety Car procedures right,” Permane said in regard to the Safety Car picking up George Russell rather than Max Verstappen.
“We have been working to try and make them quicker. The problem is with Safety Cars later in the race, you’ve got these lapped cars and we’ve had endless discussions about how to improve that situation. And there are definitely many unintended consequences of changing that procedure.”
The Italian GP was handled perfectly in relation to the rulebook, unlike the 2021 season finale where Michael Masi failed to follow the sport’s guidelines.
Finding a correct way to end races is a topic that was supposedly talked about by team principals before; however, Aston Martin boss Mike Krack revealed that the teams can’t agree on how to deal with late race incidents like Ricciardo’s or Nicholas Latifi’s.
“It’s a topic that will come back again on the agenda because there has never been consensus, really, what is the best way forward,” Krack said.
“You have also the situation that we have [at Monza]: Do you say, for example, if the race would have been two or three laps longer, do you leave the lapped cars where they are? Do let them overtake?
“I think this also is the decision of the race director. He has a little bit of playing area but at the end of the day Danny’s car was standing there also for quite long, so he cannot let the race go.”
Krack believes the recent race at the ‘Temple of Speed’ could’ve been restarted with at least a lap left, something which seems to be believed by the majority of the paddock.
Like Permane, Krack wants the Safety Car procedure to be ironed out to avoid errors such as picking up the wrong car; however, the 50-year-old recognises that “mistakes happen”.
“There is a set of rules and procedures in place that the race director has to respect,” Krack added.
“And when you have a Safety Car so late in the race, there is always a risk that it finishes like that. I think it was a bit unfortunate that they caught George instead of Max so I think maybe a lap was lost. But mistakes happen.
“Obviously for the fans, it was not nice that is the race ends like that. But I think they were more disappointed that Ferrari did not win rather than the race ending behind the Safety Car.”