The Tifosi acknowledge this with a shrill whistle concert. They had hoped for a race clearance and final attack from Scuderia star Charles Leclerc against leader Max Verstappen. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto finds clear words a little later: “A finish behind the safety car is never good: Not for us, not for Formula 1 and not for the show. I think there was enough time for the FIA to do differently today to act.”
The Italian is convinced: “Waiting so long is just wrong and bad for the sport.” He reveals: “After (the controversial World Cup final in Abu Dhabi; ed.) we had a lot of discussions last year about how we could do better, because the goal is to get the race back on safely as soon as possible. That didn’t happen here and we don’t understand why.”
The Italian does not skimp on criticism of the race management at Ferrari’s home game: “The FIA has changed a lot in this area, but they obviously need more experience and have to do a better job, because Formula 1 simply deserves better work there.”
Binotto even gets encouragement from competitor Red Bull. Team boss Christian Horner hits the same note on Sunday: “We would have preferred to win the race on the track and not behind the safety car. So we were all robbed of a showdown,” says the Brit : “The losers are the fans. It’s a disappointment for them and it also goes against the principles that we discussed.”
Horner: “In my opinion, there was more than enough time to restart the race. I think the safety car just sat in front of the wrong car at first (George Russell instead of the leader Verstappen; ed.).” As a result, at least the one round that was missing at the end was lost. Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko also shakes his head: “Otherwise we would have seen a very exciting final lap here. So people are right to boo.”
Safety car at the end: Bad memories for Hamilton
“The rules were implemented correctly today,” the Brit notes. “So it was only once in the history of our sport that it was different.” His team boss Toto Wolff adds, also with a view to Abu Dhabi: “The race control will always be criticized, but this time they stuck to the rules.”
At the end of Monza, Wolff explains: “Maybe they (the release; ed.) could have done it a lap earlier, but at least they followed the rules and accepted that the race ended behind the safety car.” For the Viennese, as for Hamilton, the situation is an internal party congress: “That’s how it should be and how it should have been.”
The dramatic World Cup final is obviously not just about the silver arrows. It is also still an emotional topic for Formula 1 fans. This is shown on Sunday by the fact that shortly after the end of the race in Monza, the hashtag #MichaelMasi was trending again on Twitter.
The former F1 race director was declared a scapegoat by the FIA after the fuss in Abu Dhabi and placed on winter leave. He has now returned to his Australian homeland and works in the Supercar series there.
FIA counters criticism and declares the end of the safety car
However, the FIA does not want to let the recent and widespread criticism sit on it on Sunday and will make an explanatory statement in the evening. It states: “The marshals were initially unable to move the car (because the gear wouldn’t go out; ed.). As the safety of the track personnel is our only priority and the incident was not significant enough to warrant a red flag , the race ended behind the safety car.”
The FIA supports the statements of Hamilton and Wolff: “This follows the procedure on which the FIA has agreed with all competitors. The timing of the safety car in the race has no influence on this procedure.”
There is also support from the paddock: “If you interpret the rules differently, perhaps in favor of the spectators, you saw what can happen in Abu Dhabi last year,” admits Jost Capito. Williams’ German team boss says: “The solution you have now is still the most logical and the most correct. If a safety car comes at the end of the race, then that’s how it is.”
Ex-F1 driver and Sky England expert Karun Chandhok also makes it clear: “In terms of procedure, the FIA did everything right. They followed the rule book, there’s no question about it.”
Nevertheless, the Indian would like those responsible to rethink: “Especially after the events in Abu Dhabi: If we have an incident in the last five laps that entails a safety car, we should think about whether it shouldn’t be an automatic red one gives the flag, followed by a standing start: for the spectacle and for all of us neutral spectators.”
This would mean that Formula 1 would follow the example of many US racing series. In the States, the sport is generally more focused on the spectacle and the show character. In this specific case, however, it could be a practicable solution if it had saved Formula 1 from the unfair 2021 World Cup final.