Martin Brundle says Formula 1 was “absolutely” not trying to create drama in the Australian Grand Prix after race director Niels Wittich decided to use the second red flag purely for safety reasons.
Max Verstappen won Sunday’s race at the Albert Park circuit ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but it will be a big price that will be remembered for the late multi-car chaos of the race and the wait for the FIA to confirm what comes next.
Kevin Magnussen suffered a high-speed crash on lap 54 when he slid into the wall and left behind his right rear bumper and other carbon fiber plates and metal debris.
The Race Control deployed the Safety Car but it was soon changed to a red flag, requiring a reformation for the double gravel shoot that ended in disaster when Carlos Sainz ripped off Fernando Alonso and several drivers behind crashed.
That brought a fair amount of criticism, with director Wittich and the FIA with the likes of Helmut Marko saying that the race was balanced “it wasn’t necessary” and created “even more danger” for drivers.
Brundle says the safety of drivers, fans and all track workers should always come first.
“Absolutely not,” he told Sky Sports when asked if the red flags were “playing showbiz drama over integrity.”
“I don’t think there is any training required for this show.
“It is a great step to walk in the shoes of the people who are responsible. It is very easy for us to sit on the sidelines as if they ‘did it’.
“But Felipe Massa almost died in 2009 when a car, another car, came through the cockpit.
“And the circuit is up, the road is really circuitous, with a lot of fans on both sides of the track and also the corner workers, the marshals, the medics who are there.
“If there are pieces of debris on the track, you can’t fly them through the air at two miles per hour. You have to consider things.”
Updated Drivers and Manufacturers smile after the Australian Grand Prix
They are not guilty if someone is killed or injured
Explaining the three options available are Race Control, Virtual Safety Car, Safety Car and Red Flag, Brundle said he did not feel Alex Albon’s crash on lap 8 necessitated the Safety Car as the marshals removed the gravel while the drivers continued to snake around the back car.
But for that second, Magnussen’s crash, when he did not say it was the right choice, he feels that it was not made for a spectacular show, which almost ended after the safety of the car. not for decoration.
“I thought when Alex Albon was leaving maybe they could have just used the Safety Car,” he said, “and pulled the gravel up there and cleaned the car. Perhaps the red flag seemed a little redundant.
“But towards the end of the race we had a helmet on the track and lots of wreckage, so I’m not at all confident that no one is going to go ‘hey, let’s make this a little bit more fun’.
But while the move was pure, the former F1 driver-turned-pundit was left to decide whether Formula 1’s power-decision maker was making the right choices in years to come.
“Which decision we’re making is crystal clear at the moment…,” he said, “obviously we lost Charlie Whiting in Melbourne when he sadly died and we went through the Michael Masi phase that everyone knows.
“We have shared roles now we have a guy named Niels Wittich in place who makes the right decisions?
“At the end of the day, as I say, we’re sitting here on Monday morning, not 1% responsible if someone is killed or injured.”
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