Max Verstappen has led a host of criticisms of drivers’ decision-making at the Australian Grand Prix after the race was stopped three times due to on-track incidents. The world champion dismissed it as a mess and blamed the FIA, the governing body, for responsibility.
Verstappen won in Melbourne with a dominant display but only after three red flag stops, chaos, confusion and a race finish behind the safety car. A second red flag with four laps to go resulted in a permanent restart as there were multiple crashes, causing another pit stop and an additional 30-minute delay.
“I’m very happy to win, but the race to the finish was a bit of a mess,” he said. “I just didn’t understand why we needed a red flag. It left a lot of drivers confused. If we had a safe car and then a normal start, we wouldn’t have all these turns and then have a normal finish. So they created the problems themselves.
“We’ll talk about it, I think it left a lot of drivers confused about why we need a red flag. We’ll talk in Baku.”
Questions have also been raised as to whether the pit stops, which close the field and are followed by dramatic stand-up starts, are only being employed to improve the spectacle, with six drivers involved in accidents after the second restart.
“Nothing against them, but the people making the decisions don’t know what’s going on inside the car,” said McLaren driver Lando Norris. “The whole point of putting up a red flag… seems like it was just to put on a show. Someone does something stupid on the first turn, and it locks up and your race ends because [the FIA] He just wants to make the show more exciting.”
Mercedes driver George Russell, who took the lead from Verstappen at the start but was put at a disadvantage after the first red flag, also criticized the FIA.
“I thought the red flag was totally unnecessary,” he said. “I don’t really know what’s going on with some of the decisions right now. We are all trying to work with the FIA to make things better but this seems to be a bit of a challenge.”
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