Martin Brundle has called for the FIA to “urgently” make changes to Race Control following the confusion over the delayed start to the Monaco Grand Prix.
With rain starting to fall, the decision was made to postpone getting the race underway, and there were chaotic scenes on the grid as mechanics scrambled back and forth to the garages, unsure of which tyres they should be starting the race with.
There was eventually a Formation Lap behind the Safety Car, and finally a red flag before the race got underway – with a rolling start – over an hour later than billed.
Brundle believes that the delay while waiting to see if the rain would increase was not required.
“Holding up a race in anticipation of incoming weather is not necessary,” the former F1 driver wrote in his column for Sky Sports.
“We have virtual and real Safety Cars, red flags, pit-stop crews who can change tyres in two seconds, and two types of wet weather tyres to cover those challenges. That’s what Formula 1 racing is all about.”
Brundle: FIA need to make changes for wellbeing of F1
Reflecting on the uncertainty of the situation, Brundle continued: “A couple of reliable sources tell me that there were heated
arguments in Race Control during the impasse as we all looked on unsure
of what was happening.
“This presumably explains the periods
of inaction and lack of information, and the reason why the Safety Car
was not out exploring track conditions as usual.”
Consequently, Brundle feels that the system at Race Control needs to be examined.
“The FIA, for the well-being of F1, urgently needs a root and branch change with a fully dedicated and empowered Race Director with at least one understudy, a dedicated circuit and systems inspector, plus an empowered and effective communications department,” he commented.
“I consider this a highest priority issue.”
Lingering impact of 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Changes were made to Race Control in light of the controversial events of the 2021 season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, during which decisions made by then-Race Director Michael Masi in the latter stages of the event came heavily under the spotlight.
Masi was later removed from the post, and has since been replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, who will alternate in the role during the 2022 campaign.
Brundle thinks that what happened in Abu Dhabi was the consequence of a situation that had been building for some time, and he also believes that the after-effects are still being felt.
“What happened in the championship defining circumstances in Abu Dhabi last year had been brewing up for months, perhaps even years, since the death of Charlie Whiting, and it was inevitable given that we had 39 races including many hurriedly assembled ‘pop-up’ events taking place during the pandemic without due resource and structure at the FIA,” Brundle stated.
“And what happened to Michael Masi in the aftermath has made the job a poisoned chalice and that’ll take some fixing, if indeed that’s possible.
“He was the right man for the job, Charlie’s understudy, but frankly F1 and the FIA were winging it at times and the whole thing skidded off track with regard to dominant Race Control and refereeing, which is essential.”
Explanation for the rolling starts
In regards to why each race restart was a rolling one, Brundle again argues that this could have been handled more effectively to avoid any further confusion.
“We were informed by the FIA at 20.03 after the race on Sunday that
there were power issues on the starting gantry due to the heavy rain
which explains the rolling starts after the red flags,” he said.
“If we had been
told this in the media via our simple and effective WhatsApp group, we
could have then informed the tens of millions of viewers around the
globe and the tens of thousands of fans trackside, and it would all have
made a lot more sense.
“During the first red flag the race
appeared to randomly get underway on the countdown clock and with a lap
showing as completed, there must presumably have been a trigger point,
but then we were treated to some outstanding car control by drivers with
zero experience of the 2022 cars on the new 18 inch wheels on a wet and