Date published: August 31 2020
Michael Masi has defended the decision not to red flag the Belgian GP despite drivers have to pick their way through a debris field.
The Safety Car was deployed on lap 11 of the Belgian race when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at the exit of Les Fagnes.
Hitting the wall, the Alfa Romeo bounced back across the track and onto the racing line with the front left wheel coming loose.
Russell, who was behind Giovinazzi, hit that wheel before he crashed into the barrier on the other side of the track.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 30, 2020
The ferocious impact from both cars left debris scattered all over the track with the Safety Car deployed as the marshals helped the drivers before clearing the debris.
It did, however, mean that the drivers had to pick their way through the debris field.
Lewis Hamilton voiced his concerns over the radio to his Mercedes pit wall: “There’s so much debris that someone’s going to get a puncture.”
There was speculation that the race would need to be red flagged, both for the safety of the drivers and the marshals.
Race Control opted against that, instead going for the Safety Car approach.
Masi explained why.
He told RaceFans.net that it “wasn’t necessary to have a red flag”.
He continued: “A red flag is one of the many tools available to the race director, as is the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car.
“The marshals did a great job clearing a path through in the first instance quite quickly.”
“Once the Safety Car line went through, there was a very clear path through there.
“So, in my view, a red flag was not necessary.”
Masi revealed that the FIA will also look at the area around the crash to see if any safety improvements need to be made.
He said: “From the FIA perspective whenever an incident occurs it’s always something that we look at and ways that we can improve any circuit.
“So I don’t think it’s just a Spa matter, every single incident we see what improvements can be made.”
Russell meanwhile said he was very grateful to one of Formula 1’s newer safety device, the Halo.
“If I went to the right, that’s where Antonio’s car was, and at the left side of the track, I had a massive impact with the tyre,” said the Williams driver.
“But I have to say you feel much safer in the car now with the halo.
“When I saw this massive tyre coming towards me, it was quite scary to be honest.
“So I’m very thankful that we have this halo on the car right now.
“I’m all fine. Just a little bit frustrated obviously. But that’s racing sometimes.”