FIA race director Michael Masi admits he is concerned that a wheel detached from Antonio Giovinazzi’s car when he crashed during the Belgian Grand Prix.
Giovinazzi went off on the exit of the Fagnes chicane towards the end of the middle sector at Spa-Francorchamps, over-correcting a slide and hitting the tire barrier on the outside of the track. The left-rear wheel was ripped off Giovinazzi’s car and George Russell hit it, instantly taking the Williams out of the race. Masi said the incident is already being investigated.
“Yes, it is a concern,” Masi said. “Why it came detached I’m not 100% sure, but immediately once the car came back to the drop off area our technical team already started the investigation. (They were) taking photos, we’ve got the footage, the technical department in conjunction with the safety department will investigate why. We need to look at all the available data and process it, and let the appropriate people look into it – the incident itself and what happened.”
Emotions were high throughout the race weekend one year after Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert’s death at Spa, and with Giovinazzi’s car bouncing back across the track after hitting the tire barrier, Masi said all accidents are looked at to see if any changes can be made to specific areas of any circuit.
“I think from the FIA perspective whenever an incident occurs it’s always something we look at and ways we can improve any circuit. I don’t think it’s just a Spa matter, it’s every single incident and see what improvements that can be made. Safety is something that’s alive, it’s not start and finish, it’s something that’s always improving, that we can always learn from, and make improvements. We’ll look at it from that perspective and go from there.”
Masi also defended the decision not to red flag the race after the incident, despite a large amount of debris being on track when the field first picked its way through behind the Safety Car.
“It wasn’t necessary to have a red flag,” he said. “As we saw, a red flag is one of many tools available to the race director, as is the Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car. The marshals did a great job clearing a path through in the first instance, quite quickly, and there were a number of cars in front of the Safety Car.
“Once the Safety Car line went through there was a very clear path through there. In my view a red flag was not necessary.”