Wolff calls for greater clarity on red flag calls
By Mat Coch
Monday 3rd April, 2023 - 2:43am
Toto Wolff has called for a greater understanding from Formula 1 race control over when red flags will be shown during a race.
Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix was thrice interrupted by stoppages, with the Virtual Safety Car also being briefly deployed.
Alex Albon triggered the first red flag when he crashed at Turn 6, initially drawing the Safety Car before the race was temporarily halted to clear gravel and debris from the racing surface.
Mercedes pitted race leader George Russell as the initial Safety Car was deployed.
It was a move that, in normal circumstances, would have left him with a strong tactical advantage for the balance of the race.
Instead, the red flag left him in fifth with those ahead able to freely change tyres under the stoppage.
“I think the strategy call with George was absolutely the right one, splitting the cars,” argued Wolff.
“And I think he [Russell] would have had a real go at being very much at the front, so that’s a shame.”
The second came when Kevin Magnussen broke his right-rear wheel on the barrier exiting Turn 2 in the latter stages of the encounter.
While Magnussen moved the car to safety, the tyre sat just off the racing line on the run to Turn 3.
The circuit was also littered with debris from the damaged wheel rim which needed marshals on track to clear.
“Both red flags we didn’t see coming,” Wolff admitted.
“I think restarts are great and [have] got great entertainment factor, and we just we just need to understand going forward when a red flag is being put out, and what is a Safety Car or VSC [Virtual Safety Car].
“I think those incidents you could have applied either.”
Russell ultimately retired from the race, his Mercedes catching fire on Lap 17, drawing the Virtual Safety Car as the W14 was retrieved from just beyond pit exit.
A final red flag interruption came following the penultimate lap restart which left Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries in the gravel at Turn 1, and the two Alpines in the wall at Turn 2.
“I think that why Formula 1 is so successful is because it’s sport and follows a rulebook, but that gives great entertainment,” Wolff said.
“As long as it’s clear, you know how this has been interpreted, I’m fine.
“But like I said before, you know whether you whether you call a VSC, or Safety Car or you red flag it, as long as long as we understand in terms of us be able to plan a little bit or having the same rules for everyone, then that’s okay.”
The result of the Australian Grand Prix was protested by Haas, with the complaint understood to relate to the position of the field at Safety Car Line 2.
As such, results remain provisional with Lewis Hamilton second to Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso third.
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