Toto Wolff and Christian Horner disagree as Abu Dhabi GP controversy re-emerges

Max Verstappen won the Italian GP which ended behind the Safety Car.

The Italian Grand Prix has caused debate as to whether the sport’s rulebook needs to be adjusted, after the race at the ‘Temple of Speed’ finished behind the Safety Car.

Max Verstappen cruised across the line to claim a fifth consecutive victory, after a Safety Car was needed to recover Daniel Ricciardo’s stricken McLaren.

The Australian came to a halt between the two Lesmos but left his car in gear.

This meant marshals couldn’t push the Honey Badger’s MCL36 into a safe spot, resulting in a tractor being needed to lift the McLaren to safety.

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Unfortunately, the recovery took too long for the race to resume, resulting in it being completed behind the SC.

The race director therefore completed the race by following the rulebook to a tee, something which didn’t happen, of course, at the 2021 season finale.

What happened at Monza is exactly what should’ve happened at Abu Dhabi last season, but as we all know, it didn’t.

Some called for the race to be red-flagged so that the circuit could be cleared and so that the race could finish under a green flag; however, an FIA spokesperson revealed why the race couldn’t be red-flagged.

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An FIA spokesperson said: “While every effort was made to recover Ricciardo’s car quickly and resume racing, the situation developed, and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road.

“As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority, and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag.

“The race ended under a safety car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all competitors. The timing of the safety car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was one of many who were unhappy with how the race ended, admitting that the Austrian team “share the disappointment” that saw fans boo relentlessly after the race.

Red Bull were again the big winners, with Verstappen winning comfortably.

“We had the faster car, and we would have liked to have won the race on the track, not behind the safety car,” said Horner.

“We share the disappointment of all the fans because it took away a grandstand finish. They were the biggest losers today.”

Sir Lewis Hamilton, who was of course the victim of the rules being broken at the 2021 season finale, was full of praise for race director Niels Wittich, for following the rules as written.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was also very pleased with how the race was concluded, with the Austrian happy that the rules were “followed to the letter”.

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“It is very clear. There are rules, they are written down, and from my perspective, whether I am traumatised by Abu Dhabi or not, these rules today have been followed to the letter,” said the Mercedes boss.

“There was a car out on track, and there were marshals and a crane out there and that is why they didn’t let anyone overtake. There was not enough time to re-start the race.

“You can only red flag the race if someone is in the wall or the track is blocked. If one is not happy with the regulations and you want to have a big-bang show and two laps of racing and mayhem, then I am up for that, but we need to change the regulations.”