Vettel Reveals Late FIA Call Compromised Aston Martin’s Imola Race

Published 04/20/2021, 2:31 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in the FIA Press Conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS


On lap 34 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the FIA red-flagged the race after a heavy collision between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell.

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After clearing up the debris, the race was finally resumed. However, the manner in which it restarted not only bemused Sebastian Vettel but also affected his race adversely.

“I don’t know why it was a rolling start,” the German said after the race. “With the red flag, we tried to start on a softer tyre, but there was a rolling start which we didn’t expect. And then we had a higher degradation on the soft than others on the medium.”

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Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 25, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Aston Martin Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer echoed the same sentiment. Not only did the rolling start take him by surprise, but it was too late to change Sebastian’s tires – “We anticipated a standing start again, but then we were told it was a rolling start quite late.”

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Why did the FIA not inform Sebastian Vettel & Co. of the rolling start beforehand?

Vettel wasn’t the only one; Charles Leclerc was also in the same boat. He, too, was unaware of the rolling start. This begs the question as to why the Race Control failed to inform the drivers beforehand.

According to the Race Director, Michael Masi, they were following the standard protocol. “Generally, we can post either a standing start or a rolling start once the cars have actually left pit lane.

“And so on this occasion, we did it at I think it was about turn seven – there or thereabouts.”

Why the rolling start and not the standing start?

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Last season when the races in Monza and Mugello were red-flagged, they restarted with a standing start. But it wasn’t feasible this time in Imola as the track conditions were too unsafe.

“Having looked at the situation, and particularly with the left-hand side in particular of the track on the approach to turn two, the far left-hand side being quite damp, determined that we would go for a rolling start,” said Michael Masi.

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in action during practice REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

In our opinion, the FIA needs to alter the rulebook slightly. They need to inform the teams of their decision before they leave the pits. Otherwise, it can have an unfair impact on their race.

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Bharat Aggarwal

695 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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