Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says the running of F1 races has deteriorated this season, with the finish to the Italian Grand Prix marking a “new low”.
The Monza race frustratingly finished behind the safety car after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren broke down in an awkward position halfway around the track. There was confusion when the safety car picked up George Russell’s Mercedes rather than leader Max Verstappen. Meanwhile, marshals struggled to remove the stricken McLaren, which was stuck in gear.
As a result, racing did not resume, prompting anger from the Italian fans, who booed Verstappen at the chequered flag. Even Red Bull boss Christian Horner wasn’t happy with how the race ended, and says a similar finish must be avoided in the future.
READ MORE: Christian Horner says F1 abandoned 'let them race' policy at Monza despite Verstappen win
Villeneuve has gone even further, hammering the race director for not getting the Italian GP restarted and the stewards for their decision-making in general.
Former race director Michael Masi came under fire for several decisions last season, particularly his botched handling of the Abu Dhabi safety car period, which saw Verstappen pinch the title from Lewis Hamilton. Masi lost his job as a result and subsequently left the FIA, the sport’s governing body.
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Masi was replaced by two race directors, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who take it in turn to oversee races. However, Villeneuve, who won the F1 title in 1997, believes decision-making by those charged with running races has got worse, not better since last year.
“There was no strategic battle, there were no battles on the track. It was empty, especially when you compare it to everything we've seen this year. We want more, but we didn't get it,” he said in his post-race column for Dutch title Formule1.nl.
“This was partly due to the poor race management. It hasn't been very strong this year, but this was a new low. It should be exciting and aggressive and that's how the race should be run. We are not endurance racing, this is Formula 1!
“A race should never, ever end behind the safety car. So much could have been done differently: a red flag, forward the lapped cars earlier… There was enough time, then we could have raced [for] two more laps.
“It made me realise that last year wasn't all that bad. Mistakes were made, but the intention was always to get back to racing as soon as possible. Yesterday it seemed like this was not important, [it was] unbelievable to watch. This made no sense, such a finish must be prevented.”
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