Pit Stop

They're off … and they're off again!

FIA's idea of restarting races from the grid after a safety-car period, to increase the excitement, is already seeing red flags

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 11:38pm

Go on, admit it. We've all done it, especially in the days of the Schumacher processions. Watch the start because it's the most exciting part of a grand prix, then walk out and do something more interesting before returning for the last few laps.

Well, the geniuses at the top of F1 have come up with a way of "improving the show". They would like to have several starts in a race.

This might sound a bit odd at first. After all, a race by definition has one start and one finish. However, the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA has decided that after a safety-car period, a grand prix should get under way with a standing start from the grid.

It would be more exciting if there were more that one static start, but it seems flawed on almost every other level

Apparently, it is thought the rolling start isn't sufficiently exciting. This is because there isn't enough overtaking from these restarts. Note that fairness doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

Let's be honest, it would be more exciting if there were more that one static start, but it seems flawed on almost every other level. It seems particularly unfair on the driver leading the race.

It's bad enough with his lead cut to nothing and his rivals breathing down his neck as they snake behind the safety car. But at least he has the advantage of being able to dictate the restart, backing up the cars by slowing down before putting his foot to the floor and trying to catch out his rivals.

A start from the grid could see the leader lose several places in the melee. It's all very exciting of course, but why should the best driver be subjected to that lottery. Indeed, the only possible winners are the also-rans who can really profit.

There are enough racing variables to tackle, with pit stops, petulant tyres and sometimes even more petulant teammates without adding this into the overall mix.

It's also unfair on the cars. They suffer enough waiting for the start of the race, but putting clutches under the strain of a restart perhaps several times in a race is going to be a test.

More of a worry is flying off the grid on old and/or cold tyres. Some drivers have already questioned the safety and the wisdom of this.

It's not that fair on Mercedes, who pay a lot for the privilege of providing the safety car. Given the money paid, you won't be surprised to hear the safety car will still be involved in marshalling cars after an accident, although you have to wonder what the point is.

Now that teams know this is going to be the scenario in 2015, they will be planning accordingly, which may well cut down the technical fallout from this new regulation.

In the end though, the debate will go back to whether or not this is proper racing, in the real spirit of Formula One.

Some of the drivers aren't so sure it's a good idea.

Daniel Ricciardo, who's starting to get used to the idea of leading races, said: "It's just a bit too much of a disadvantage for someone who earned the lead in the first place."

The man who is getting used to leading the world championship, Nico Rosberg, has similar reservations, saying: "I understand the start is one of the most exciting times for the fans, but that's going too far with things.

"I like the pure racing, the way it's been for the last 50 years. It should stay the way it is now."

The idea of a "pure racing" is surely a bit of a misnomer in the modern era. Rules change as often as the wind. All sports change over time, but F1 seems keen to reinvent itself every season.

Wouldn't one way to improve the show, as the F1 bosses desire, be to leave well alone for a while and let the racing provide the excitement?