Lewis Hamilton says the safety car restart crash that caused a red flag in the Tuscan Grand Prix was the fault of “the decision-makers” and not teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas was leading behind the safety car when a late decision to restart the race was made at the end of Lap 6, and the Finn was closing in on the start line but had not yet accelerated when a number of cars collided further back. Four drivers were taken out after thinking the pack had resumed racing, but speaking before the FIA warned 12 of those involved in the incident for their driving, Hamilton said there could be no blame apportioned to Bottas..
“Firstly, it’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all,” Hamilton said. “It’s the decision-makers. I don’t know who. They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen they’ve put people at risk. So, perhaps they need to rethink that.
“They have been moving switching off the safety car lights later and later and later and we’re out there fighting for a position. Especially when you earn a position like Valtteri earned the position of being in the lead and then obviously they are trying to make it more exciting — but today was a little bit over the limit perhaps. But he did exactly what anyone would do.”
Hamilton wants the FIA to consider the safety implications of calling for multiple restarts in races, after a grand prix at Mugello that saw three standings starts — two from red flag periods — in addition to the safety car.
“I need to think about it and I don’t want to overstep the mark as I know the fans were excited with the last race, with the restart and everything, so it seemed like they… if there’s a piece of paper on the track they’re going to put the red flag out and do a restart. I can understand why and that is exciting. Ultimately, these races can get boring when everyone streams out and there’s such big gaps between everyone and so this does bring it back it in.
“They do it in NASCAR — they put out the yellow flag all the time and safety cars, whatever, all the time to keep the race exciting, but they definitely need to take into account the safety aspect because today wasn’t particularly safe with the restart. I could almost see that coming. I’m sure they will learn from it and we will move together, the sport together.”
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Hamilton’s comments come after his 90th victory, secured when he regained the lead from a standing restart following the first red flag period, and he says the fight with Bottas was an intense one.
“It’s all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day. Just incredibly tough today. I think obviously with a difficult start. This track is phenomenal. The heat, keeping Valtteri behind me — who’s been quick all weekend — was not easy, and obviously I was behind him at the beginning. All those restarts and the total focus needed during that time. It was really, really hard.”