LONDON, United Kingdom, Sept 17 – Lewis Hamilton is concerned that F1 bosses are tempted to use red flags too easily to inject excitement into races.
The red flags made a rare appearance at the Italian Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc crashed at Monza’s Parabolica, and that coupled with a Safety Car and a 10-second stop-go penalty for Lewis Hamilton led to a hugely entertaining race which AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly went on to win.
At the following race, Formula 1’s first ever Tuscan Grand Prix held at Mugello, the red flags were used twice to stop the race, firstly after a multi-car pile-up on the main straight at the Safety Car restart and later when Lance Stroll binned his Racing Point at Arrabbiata 2.
Hamilton says he accepts that the red flags can make races more exciting at a time where he is strolling towards a seventh World Championship, but warned the FIA not to overlook safety.
“I know the fans loved the last race [in Monza] with the restart and everything. So even if there is a piece of paper on the track, it seems they’ll pull out the red flag and do a fresh start,” he said after the Tuscan Grand Prix.
“I can understand why and that it is exciting. Ultimately, these races can get boring when everyone streams out and there’s such big gaps between everyone and so this does bring it back it in.
“They do it in NASCAR — they put out the yellow flag all the time and safety cars, whatever, all the time to keep the race exciting, but they definitely need to take into account the safety aspect because [the Tuscan Grand Prix] wasn’t particularly safe with the restart.
“I could almost see that coming. I’m sure they will learn from it and we will move together, the sport together.”
Heading into the Italian Grand Prix Hamilton had won the previous races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Spa-Francorchamps in dominating fashion.
He returned to the top step at Mugello, though the pair of red flags did help to keep the race result unpredictable with both Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in contention until the end.
Next up in the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom where Mercedes have a 100% winning record since the event joined the calendar in 2014.