The Italian Grand Prix final behind a safety car led to unexpected reactions, one of which was a call for Formula 1 to bring back Michael Massi as race director in the championship! The Australian was relieved of his post because of the scandal from the last race of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi. He then let only the cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen back into the column behind the safety car and restarted the race for 1 lap. Earlier in Azerbaijan there was a similar incident with an accident, but then Massi stopped the race and resumed it for the last few laps.
Last Sunday, Daniel Ricciardo stopped on the track a few laps before the checkered flag. Race control released a safety car that stayed on the track for the rest of the race. This caused boos from the fans and general displeasure among both fans and the media.
The rules were followed, a the FIA indicated that the incident with the McLaren driver was not serious enough to stop the race. At the same time, race director Eduardo Freitas allowed the crane that was extracting Ricciardo’s car to move around the track while the cars continued to follow behind the safety car at a speed which at Monza reaches around 140 km/h
The decision to run the cars between the leader and safeties caused them to get back into the field delayed by 3 laps. In the end, there were more dissatisfied people. Verstappen would probably have won even if the race had been restarted, but there would hardly have been such a murmur.
— Gaia 🦭🪨 (@sempre_negativ_) September 11, 2022
“100 years of racing and watching Formula 1 cars line up behind a safety car on the fastest track. People who waited for hours at the entrances to watch the race of the century had to endure this disgrace,” Corriere della Serra wrote.
Former TV commentator Alexey Popov has bluntly called on F1 to bring back Michael Massi.
“For all those who criticize him – the suspension of the competition in Baku was on his initiative. There was a restart and a struggle within two laps. Yes, the resumption of the race in Abu Dhabi gained infamy and turned the championship upside down. But he let them race. Air traffic control’s actions were self-explanatory. It would be strange for them to do otherwise after the scandal. They were trapped by their own mistakes. They removed Massi and said they would enforce the rules, meaning it would be even worse if they didn’t. But I think more adaptability is needed.”
“I’ll say it again – Massey should be back!”
Jacques Villeneuve also did not spare the criticism of flight control.
“The Monza race did not turn out to be particularly interesting – there was no struggle in strategies, no serious duels on the track. The race was pretty boring compared to other starts this year. We wanted more, but we didn’t get it. This is partly due to the actions of air traffic control. They never perform very well during the season, but at Monza they hit rock bottom. Competitions should be captivating, there should be a serious fight. This is not endurance racing, this is Formula 1!”
“A race should never end behind a safety car. There were countless options and there could have been at least two rounds. The incident makes me think that not everything last year was so bad. Yes, of course, there were mistakes, but in every situation we saw a desire to resume the race as quickly as possible. Last Sunday there was no such thing,” commented Villeneuve.
The name of Michael Massi also appeared in the commentary of the famous Italian journalist Leo Turini.
“Last year in Abu Dhabi, Michael Massi had to stop a race with a red flag. He didn’t and that was a mistake – I wrote it back then. But Massi was right about one thing: he did not allow the most interesting championship in two decades to end behind a safety car. “It’s called motorsport,” he then responded to criticism.
“At Monza, his successors forgot all that. Once it became clear that Ricciardo’s car could not be quickly removed, a red flag would have been enough. But the Grand Prix, held in Monza’s 100th year, ended at a snail’s pace. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different even in the scenario I’m describing. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was faster than Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.”
“There is no doubt that the championship will once again have a worthy winner this year and all those who booed Verstappen at Monza, demonstrated their own ignorance. But after last Sunday, the leadership of Formula 1 must draw the necessary conclusions. It is their duty to show respect to motorsport enthusiasts. Certainly not at the expense of safety,” Turini concluded.
McLaren’s Andreas Seidl revealed after the race in Italy that the teams did not agree on how to proceed with a late-race incident when they discussed it because of what happened in Abu Dhabi.
“After Abu Dhabi, there were numerous discussions between the FIA, Formula 1 and all the teams. The aim was to see if the rules could be changed so that a race would never end behind a safety car. But while the FIA and F1 were all pushing for a solution, it ultimately came down to the teams and they failed to agree on a solution that was both fair and not damaging to the sport. So unfortunately I guess we just have to accept that situations like this are going to happen,” Seidl pointed out.