The deployment of a crane to recover Valtteri Bottas’ stricken Mercedes Formula 1 car resulted in a full Safety Car period during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Bottas retired after suffering an engine failure on Lap 52 of Sunday’s race at Interlagos and coasted to a stop near the barriers at Turn 4.

Despite parking his car in a safe place, Bottas struggled to re-fit the steering wheel and marshals were unable to engage his W10 into neutral and get it over a bump on the crest of an incline where it had come to rest.

As a result, a crane was required to retrieve the car, which led from the incident being covered by double yellow flags to a full-on Safety Car.

Since the crash that led to Jules Bianchi’s death at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA is obliged to deploy a full Safety Car period if a crane is needed.

“Valtteri did a fantastic job where he stopped,” FIA race director Michael Masi explained.

“It was trying to push the car back into the gap which is why we went double yellow, to help the marshals there.

“The car got stuck on the bump, so we actually had to deploy the crane to move it out. So for me, as soon as the crane is deployed, that’s it, it’s straight Safety Car.

“I think it was a combination of the bump, [Valtteri being in] neutral and in that situation, once you’ve got three or four marshals trying to push it and couldn’t get it anywhere, so that’s why we went for the Safety Car.

“The crane completely changes it and because of where it was and being off track was why it was covered under a double yellow flag originally.”

Asked why the field was under the Safety Car for so long before the back markers were allowed to unlap themselves, Masi replied: “Probably the first part of it was actually getting the leader behind the Safety Car, which took a little bit longer purely because of car positioning.

“Then getting the list from timing of all the cars and then putting them in. The first focus is obviously to clear the incident and the unlapping of cars is a secondary scenario.”

Speaking about his engine problem, Bottas added: “I think there was a bit of smoke. I didn’t actually see it myself, but they reported it to me.

"I couldn’t feel any loss of power, it’s just the engine switched off after Turn Three.

“I think they [the marshals] couldn’t move the car, it was kind of stuck by the floor, so that was the issue.”

 

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