Red Bull driver Max Verstappen continued his dominant run in the 2022 F1 season as he claimed the 11th P1 finish in 16 races on Sunday (11 September). Verstappen pipped pole-sitter Charles Leclerc of Ferrari to finish at the top of the podium in Monza. However, the race ended on a rather anti-climactic note behind a safety car which was deployed after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren stopped on the side of the road due to engine failure.
The safety car was deployed since Ricciardo’s car couldn’t be cleared in time for the finish line. The same would have also been the case in Abu Dhabi last year, as the correct course of action would have been to clear the lapped cars before restarting the race. However, race director Michael Masi failed to apply the correct safety car rules and chose to engage in a lap of “motor racing,”.
This controversial decision from Masi resulted in Lewis Hamilton losing to Max Verstappen and eventually missing out on his record eighth F1 title. The race director was also sacked from his job a few months later. However, things have changed since then and what happened in Monza was legal and well within the rules. But this surely gave the fans a flashback to what transpired in Abu Dhabi.
Lewis Hamilton who was on the receiving end of all this also recalled the incident and spoke his heart out. “These are the rules – only once has it been changed. It always brings memories back, that is the rule that it should be, right? So only one time, in the history of the sport that they haven’t done the rule.” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
Referring to the same incident, his boss and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also said: “The race directors are always going to be under criticism, but I think this time they followed the rules. Maybe they could have done it a lap sooner – and they accepted the race ends under the safety car. This is how it should be.”
Notably, the seven-time F1 champion started the race from the back row of the field, due to an engine penalty. He made a brilliant recovery drive working his way through the field from P19 to P5.