Romain Grosjean fears standing restarts after a red flag “could be carnage” after practicing the new procedure at the end of the second day of the final test in Barcelona.
Starting this season, race director Charlie Whiting will be able to choose whether a race restarts following a red flag period with a standing start from the grid or a rolling start as in the past. A change in regulations states the decision will be made based on track conditions, with the cars leaving the pit lane behind the safety car after a red flag stoppage and then either being released or forming on the grid.
The grid restart was simulated at the end of each of the first two days of the final test, and when asked if he found any problems with the procedure, Grosjean replied: “Yes.
“I didn’t go above fourth gear. It’s undriveable. I was one of the first guys to come on the grid so I sat there with [Valtteri] Bottas for a long time. But when we restarted, it was like it was raining on slicks.
“Every time you upshift, the rears spin and wheelspin. Every time you downshift, the rears lock. You go into a corner and slide. It’s doesn’t work. Safety-wise, I’m a bit concerned because as I say, I went to fourth gear and that was the maximum I could do.
“It’s pretty cold, but we know that if you spin and then you restart and you try to push again, the tire’s normally gone and you never put the temperature back in. So imagine doing a slow lap and then aborting and then another one. We were down in 40 degrees or something like that with tires. They just don’t work.”
Pushed on the fact he sees it as a safety concern, Grosjean added: “To me it could be carnage.
“You can lose the car in a straight line, and if someone loses it and then people are behind… We tried it, and honestly I was not having much fun just trying to upshift and downshift, it was tricky. Bottas was in front of me, and he was not having much fun either. I don’t know what pace we’ve done, but look at the sector. It’s going to be very, very slow.”
Grosjean says he will raise the issue with Grand Prix Drivers Association chairman Alex Wurz to gauge what the rest of the grid think of the regulation.
“Yeah I’m going to speak with Alex. I’ve got a GPDA group message. I’m just going to say, ‘Look, [in] my experience, I feel like it’s dangerous.’ Maybe the others don’t feel the same, but I don’t feel confident going with these cold tires.”
Wednesday’s restarts took place after a red flag stoppage, with Charles Leclerc having spun off at Turn 12 at the end of the day’s allotted session time.