‘Weak’ F1 rules that left Ricciardo and Piastri a lap down
Ricciardo and Piastri suffered extensive damage as innocent victims of a chaotic crash in the first corner at the start of the race at Interlagos.
When the entire field entered the pitlane at the end of the opening lap, due to all the debris on the track at Turn 1, everyone rejoined as the AlphaTauri and McLaren cars were taken to their garages and appeared to be about to retire.
The safety car period quickly became a red flag on lap two, giving Ricciardo and Piastri a reprieve as their team was able to make extensive repairs during the long stop.
But it also meant that both cars were on a downward lap, with the field crossing the line for a second time as they returned to the pits to line up on the fast lane behind the safety car.
As the red flag period meant teams had time to repair the cars, which for AlphaTauri meant changing Ricciardo’s rear wing, Ricciardo thought he would return for the lead lap – but was informed he would take the restart after one lap.
“So, we’re ready to go and then they tell Oscar and I start a ride down,” Ricciardo said.
“And yeah…all the excitement you have to race again comes right out of you.
“There was no green flag race course completed.
“I don’t know how we started the race with one lap, so it’s really frustrating.
“There’s something a bit weak about the rules.”
A set of Formula 1 rules left Ricciardo and Piastri in this position.
The restart order is taken “at the last point at which all the cars could have been located”, and there was a clear classification at the end of the second lap (although it was completed under the red flag). That was a roll to Ricciardo and Piastri.
This could have been fixed before the restart by moving them to the front of the fast track to complete the lap and then back to the pits at the back of the queue – but this is not what Formula 1 rules allow for the cars in Ricciardo’s pit stop and Can Piastri in.
There are different conditions for cars that were not on track at the time the race was suspended.
If, like Ricciardo and Piastri, they are in the garage during the red flag, then on the restart they are only allowed to “leave the pitlane when the race resumes but must return to the pitlane when the safety car returns and may join”. “The race is as soon as the last car passes through the pit exit after the restart.”
Essentially, you’ll get different treatment if you’re not part of the fast lane queue at the time of the red flag. Had Ricciardo and Piastri been on a lap down but at the back of the queue rather than in their garage they would have been allowed to catch the lap again.
It is similar to the established practice of allowing lapping cars to pass the safety car and then trying to catch up to the back of the pack.
In Azerbaijan in 2021, for example, Nikita Mazepin was moved from the back of the queue in the fast lane to the front during a late red flag period, and then released onto the track alone. He led the lap, returned to the pits, rejoined the back of the queue (now on the main lap), then left the full field of pits to head to the grid for the standing restart.
So, the only way for Piastri and Ricciardo to get back off the grid in Brazil was for both cars to continue rather than return to the pits at the end of the first lap, and then have their cars repaired on the fast track instead. garage.
In hindsight, this might have been possible, given that the red flag looked likely, so in theory they could have bet on running with damage behind the safety car for another lap.
But they could have been punished if they continued to drive their cars in an unsafe condition, and in any case, the damage to both cars probably needed an entire garage environment to repair in such a short time.
The real ordeal was that this was not an immediate red flag. Had the field entered the pits immediately at the end of the first lap and then Ricciardo and Piastri returned their cars to the garage for repairs, they would still have been forced to start from the pits – but at least they would not have been able to. Roll down.
Ricciardo suggested changing the rule in this case, pointing out that in extreme scenarios it could mean more cars having to pit with only a few on the grid.
“My argument is that if the problem was with 15 cars today, would they start with 15 cars in the pitlane and put five cars on the grid? No,” he said.
“They’re not going to do that, so I think they can use common sense and be a bit more open.
“It’s frustrating that they ruined our day from the beginning.”