F1 teams support FIA over delayed Monaco start

The start of the Monaco GP was delayed due to heavy rain

Formula 1 team bosses have endorsed the decision of FIA race control to delay the start of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Officials suspended the start procedure five minutes before lights were scheduled to go out as rain began to fall in the Principality.

It left fans, the media, and broadcasters at a loss as conditions had not deteriorated to the point of becoming unsafe.

However, unbeknownst to the wider world, race control was monitoring a storm cell which was predicted to hit the circuit, along with a reported power outage.

It sparked comparisons to last year’s Belgian ‘Grand Prix’ which descended into a farce as conditions closed in around the Ardennes venue.

“The rain at the beginning was torrential,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff of the decision to delay the start on Sunday.

“I don’t think that you can start a race with thunderstorms moving into Monaco like this, so I have no beef at all with the start having been delayed a few times.

“You need to give [Eduardo] Freitas, or the race directors, the credit that this was a very difficult race to manage.

“I would have hoped for an earlier start when it dried up, but I think there was a problem with connectivity to Biggin Hill [the location of F1’s British-based technical centre], and that’s why they couldn’t get it going.”

Cars did eventually head out off behind the Safety Car some 16 minutes behind schedule, though completed just two laps before the red flag was shown as conditions worsened.

A lengthy delay then followed, with the weather improving well before the race was resumed.

When it did, it commenced behind the Safety Car, rather than with a standing start as is permitted under the regulations.

It’s understood race control was affected by a power outage, with uncertainty over how the start gantry would operate, coupled with connection issues to Biggin Hill that added a further delay.

“In the end, it was the right thing to do, what the race director has decided,” said McLaren boss Andreas Seidl.

“I think there was absolutely no need to start the race knowing how the weather forecast was, and to rush it, because simply no point ending up in taking a risk ending in a lot of crashes.

“So from this point of view, I think everything was done in the right way, and safety first.”

While clear for those at Mercedes and McLaren, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto was sure of the reasons for the delay.

“I can only say that we were a team that was fully prepared on the grid,” he said.

“We had our extreme wet tyres fitted on the cars on time.

“We were certainly in a strong position, and good for the team to show that we were organised, showing that we got some great capacity as well, and sometimes we are doing the right procedure, taking the right decisions.

“But unfortunate that the race control decided to postpone furthermore the start of the race.

“Now, why they did, it’s not clear to me. I think we should ask them for the reason.”

Part of the issue was a lack of communication, with little information flowing from race control through official sources such as the timing screens.

It left teams to make their own assumptions while the watching world was left guessing.

“It was clear with the weather forecast we had also that there was continuous rain predicted,” said Seidl when asked by Speedcafe.com if improved communication from race control could have improved the situation.

“That’s why we simply had to wait until the window is opening again, where the rain gets lighter or stops.

“That was what was happening, which was pretty clear from a team perspective why we were waiting.

“But fair point, and I think it should be analysed – if there’s anything that could be done better so that it is crystal clear also for you guys [media and fans].”

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