Michael Masi believes that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix had to go ahead after the red flag.
The Azerbaijan GP was stopped for quite some time after Max Verstappen’s big shunt at the main straight. Only 3 laps were left in the race, so there were concerns about relevance of restarting the race. The FIA race director Masi admitted that the race control had always intended to restart the race.
“Thankfully for a number of years now, we’ve had the race suspension regulations. Going back many, many years ago, was when a race was red-flagged after a certain distance, it would go back two laps and so forth,” he said.
“Obviously with the race suspension element, yes there is an option to not restart. But within the timeframe and within the format of the regulations, we can restart. There was no reason not to.”
In fact, the Australian had thoughts about stopping the race due to debris on the track surface.
“It was actually already on my mind. From the perspective of what we communicate, we communicate to everyone equally,” he added.
“Looking with the number of laps that we had to go, the recovery that was being undertaken, and the fact that there was so much debris on the pit straight, at that point, it was in my opinion the best option to suspend the race, clean everything up, and then have a race finish.”
Lance Stroll had had a similar incident on the same straight as Verstappen, but only Safety Car was deployed. Masi explained that the incident had not required the race suspension.
“Lance’s incident, obviously in the middle of the race, there was more than enough time and space on the right-hand side of the track when we were recovering it, and we were confident with the way that that could be cleared up in that fashion,” he commented.
“As I said, when looking at everything, we weren’t confident that the recovery on the pit straight [from Verstappen’s crash] and the amount of debris that was everywhere could be cleared up in the appropriate time.
“So we thought it was in the best interests of the sport to suspend and then restart in that circumstance.”