F1 stewards call for rule review after Melbourne near-miss

The Australian Grand Prix stewards want a review into F1’s restart procedures after a big accident was narrowly avoided behind an early Safety Car. 
F1 stewards call for rule review after Melbourne near-miss

Sunday’s chaotic race in Melbourne was disrupted by three red flags, the first of which was caused when Alex Albon lost control of his Williams and spun into the gravel on lap seven.

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Race control initially deployed the Safety Car before the red flag was triggered due to the amount of gravel and debris that had been thrown onto the track. 

When the cars reemerged to the track behind the Safety Car ahead of a standing restart, the contrasting pace of the two Mercedes drivers almost caused a major incident. 

Lewis Hamilton - who was entitled to dictate the pace as the first car in line behind the Safety Car - dramatically slowed down once the Safety Car lights had gone out. 

At the same time Mercedes teammate George Russell, who was running seventh, was delayed leaving the pitlane. 

In a bid to catch up to the rest of the pack, Russell, and the drivers behind him, increased their speed while the first group of cars behind Hamilton were going significantly slower. 

The big contrast in speed between the two groups resulted in a situation where several drivers had to take evasive action to avoid a pile-up. 

"When Russell and the cars behind caught up with the cars in front, they were met with a significant speed delta between the two groups resulting in a situation where a number of cars had to take evasive action,” the stewards said. 

"This was not at all an ideal situation from a safety point of view. 

“Although Russell's start was slow, given that he had to maintain the pit lane speed till he got out of the pits and that he immediately sped up to make up the gap, we did not consider that it would be necessary or appropriate to penalise Russell for a slow start from the pit lane. 

“We, therefore, took no further action.”

Although the stewards decided not to dish out out any penalties, they did call for a review into the wording of the regulation which permits the lead driver to dictate the pace. 

Article 58.11 of the sporting regulations states: "At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than ten (10) car lengths behind it.”

"We do consider that part of the problem is the regulation that permits the lead car to set the pace even when the restart is for a standing start from the pit lane (as opposed to a rolling start),” the stewards added. 

"This should perhaps be looked at in the future to see if this is appropriate for a restart of this nature."

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