Masi hits back at claims Mugello restart compromised safety

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FIA race director Michael Masi has reacted to claims from drivers that the late restart behind the safety car in the Tuscan Grand Prix purposefully sought to produce more excitement to the detriment of safety.

The safety car was deployed early on in Sunday's race following a crash on the opening lap that eliminated Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.

Race leader Bottas had paced the field at the restart but could only relaunch proceedings when the safety car turned off its lights, an event that occurred relatively late.

The end result was a concertina effect between a group of drivers on Mugello's pit straight that led to a nasty collision that knocked out Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton said the timing of the safety car turning off its lights had played a part in the crash.

"It’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all, it’s the decision makers," said Hamilton.

"They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen it put people at risk. So perhaps they need to rethink that.

"They have been moving switching off the Safety Car lights later and later and later and we’re out there fighting for a position."

Bottas insisted he had not excessively slowed the field as he prepared for the restart but taken his cue from the safety car's lights.

"Of course when you’re in the lead you try to maximise your chances and I’m not at all to blame for that. Everyone can look at everything they want for it. I was doing consistent speed until I went.

“Yes, I went late but we start racing from the control line, not before that.

“It’s just… the FIA or FOM, I don’t know who’s deciding what’s happening with the Safety Cars but they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights off later, so we can’t build a gap early and then go like the corner before the race start."

However, the Mercedes drivers' suggestions that the FIA was deliberately trying to spice up the show to the detriment of safety did not go down well with Masi.

"Absolutely not. From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount full stop. End of story," the Australian said.

"In my capacity as race director and safety delegate that’s point blank where my role is, as sporting integrity and safety. And anyone who says otherwise is quite offensive personally.

"They can criticise all they want, if we have a look at a distance perspective from where the lights were extinguished to the control line, it’s probably not dissimilar, if not longer, than a number of other venues," he added.

"The Safety Car lights go out where they do, the Safety Car [goes into] the pit lane.

"We have the 20 best drivers in the world, and as we saw earlier in the Formula 3 race those drivers in the junior category had a very, very similar restart to what was occurring in the F1 race and navigated it quite well, without incident.

"I don’t think there’s any need to review the Safety Car restart rule," Masi continued.

"At the end of the day, the key part is the drivers were all advised very clearly at the drivers' meeting on Friday night, that there was two key parts to remind them: one was to ensure they don’t overtake the Safety Car before the Safety Car line at pit entry. The second part, which is unusual for this circuit, is the control line where they can overtake is located close to the pit lane exit.

"It’s not a surprise, and we’ve seen similar matters in Baku with such a long run to the control line, where the leader – who has every right to dictate the pace – has kept it quite slow to try and avoid a slipstream from the cars behind."

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