Formula 1 journalist Antonio Lobato has not held back in his criticism of race control during the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend.
Torrential rain began to fall a few minutes before the race in the Principality was set to get underway but, instead of starting the race when the rain lightened up again at start time, race director Eduardo Freitas decided to delay the start by nine minutes.
This quickly became a 16-minute delay, and the Safety Car led the drivers around for the formation lap and then the opening lap before bringing them back into the pitlane as the standing water had become too dangerous.
The drivers then waited for around an hour to get going again, but the race was time limited owing to the fact that the race had already officially started earlier under the Safety Car.
Part of the delay was said to be down to a loss of power on the start lights, but one still wonders why they did not still start the race behind the Safety Car at the normal time, and then red flag the event if needs be.
Former F1 driver Martin Brundle recently spoke of “heated” debates in the race control room, which would be the reason that there were no notifications as to what was going on, and it all looked a bit of a mess.
Lobato was left confused during the race by the lack of information by race control, who were seemingly too busy sorting themselves out to give any updates on the eventual start of the race.
“There has been a mixture of stories because there is a part that we can’t judge, which is that they have said that they have had a power supply problem in the grid, that they couldn’t put the whole traffic light system,” he said on Twitch.
“We accept that because we can’t say otherwise either. But there were some very strange things, especially a lot of confusion when it came to sending messages.
“I base myself only on page 3 of what Formula 1 sends us, which is the page where we have all the messages from Race Direction, which I would like to think is the same that the teams receive, although the teams must have other types of information via radio.
“What appeared on that page was very little and very poorly explained and, in fact, the start of the race is a bit surreal. The message of ‘The formation lap is about to start behind the Safety Car’ and then they do two laps, it’s no longer a formation lap per se, and yet the race time doesn’t start.
“Then there came a moment when those of us who were broadcasting, Toni, Pedro and myself, had a doubt. We said, ‘Let’s see, has the race started or hasn’t it started?’
“Because the stopwatch didn’t move, it didn’t move a second and they had done two laps and that’s when the red flag came out and they went inside.
A lack of “support” for Michael Masi, according to the FIA, was a “key issue” last year, and led an overworked Australian to make the controversial decision that ultimately decided the championship in Abu Dhabi.
It stands to reason then, that simply removing Masi and installing two new race directors was never going to solve the FIA’s fundamental issues.
“Michael Masi was ‘brushed off.’ What he did was very big but I don’t want to see a situation like that, like Abu Dhabi, in a Grand Prix because this has been a bit chaotic and I think they’ve lost the plot a lot,” explained Lobato.
“I don’t want to think that there is an unprecedented tension like in Abu Dhabi because then I don’t know what these men are going to do, but I think we are worse off than before.”
Sergio Perez went on to win the race for Red Bull ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and team-mate Max Verstappen.