Formula 1 should consider adopting NASCAR’s ‘restart zone’ to avoid a repeat of the pile-up at Mugello that was triggered after a safety car period, reckons Haas boss Gunther Steiner.
The recent Tuscan Grand Prix had to be red- flagged early on when a chain reaction crash at a safety car restart led to Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi all being involved in a start-line incident.
The crash was blamed on drivers in the midfield trying to anticipate the start to get a better run down to the first corner, while race leader Valtteri Bottas held off on the restart for as long as possible.
While the FIA sees no problem with the current system, and believes the drivers were entirely to blame, Steiner reckons the matter should be discussed at the next meeting of F1’s Sporting Working Group.
And he thinks that introducing something like the ‘restart zone’ they have in NASCAR, where there is a designated area of the track where the leader must start accelerating, could be a good solution.
“The restart line was far down the straight at Mugello – and some people obviously took a chance and tried to have a run at it,” said Steiner. “I don’t think anybody did anything wrong, I fully agree with that one, it was just circumstances.
“Going forward, to avoid these things, I think we need to look at where to put the restart line and maybe also think about a restart zone. I’m not an expert in these things, but other series do it like that to avoid these things from happening.
“I think it’s worthwhile to look into it, but I’m sure it’ll come up on the agenda of the Sporting Working Group.”
Haas driver Magnussen, who was caught up in the middle of the accident, said that doing nothing about the problem that had been highlighted would simply ensure a repeat in the future.
“I think the crash happened because some drivers in front of me tried to make a slingshot to gain momentum at the restart crossing the line,” said the Dane.
“They opened the gap and accelerated and then realized they had to brake again, which then kicked off the chain reaction down the field. It eventually led to some people not being able to react.
“That’s really what happened. The solution has to be a change to the restart procedure otherwise I think it will happen again.”
F1 race director Michael Masi said after the Mugello event that he was happy with the rules in place for safety car restarts, and suggested that in the future drivers just needed to behave better.
“I don’t think there’s any need to review the safety car restart rule,” he explained.
However, when asked by Motorsport if F1 should consider something like the restart zone, he did not rule it out completely.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “But never say never to anything.”
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