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Red flags and restarts


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#1 roger_valentine

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 10:26

I apologise if this topic has been done to death in the aftermath of the Malaysian GP, but I have glanced through the various threads and cannot find any analysis of the possible ramifications of the race being restarted.

OK, step forward all those who thoroughly understand the red flag rules. I think we can all (or most of us; or some of us) understand the 'penultimate lap' business (the 'countback' rule) and so we weren't too shocked to see that Heidfeld was awarded 2nd place. But I didn't realise, until this week, that this countback rule only applies if a race is red flagged and NOT restarted; if it IS restarted, then the start positions are determined by the last known positions at the time the red flag was displayed (i.e. Button, Glock, Heidfeld, then everyone else, one lap in arrears).

So, if the race had restarted, behind the safety car, at, say, two minutes to seven, then

a) the 'lapped' cars would be allowed to pass the safety car and line up behind the leading three – the 'unlapping' rule actually making sense for once, as these cars weren't really a lap in arrears anyway.
b) assuming that nobody 'did a Trulli' and went off (or overtook) behind the safety car, the race results would be as at the time of the red flag, i.e. Glock second, Hamilton 5th (or was it 6th?) etc.

I just wonder how many drivers realised the extent to which a restart would affect the result? I don't believe that any drivers were actively lobbying for a restart, but the only driver actively lobbying for NO restart appeared to be Mark Webber. And, lo and behold, the driver to benefit most by the results being decided by the countback rule, rather than the 'last known positions' rule was… Mark Webber.

Most interesting was the comment by Lewis Hamilton when interviewed by the BBC: he seemed quite pleased with his 5th place, and very disappointed when told he was actually 7th. So Hamilton, for the second time in two races, makes an ill-advised comment to the press before being fully debriefed, and, for the second time in two races, displays a woeful ignorance of flag regulations.

Given the extreme lengths which Hamilton was prepared to go to in an attempt to gain an extra place after the Australian GP, don't you think he would have been quite keen on the prospect of trundling around for a lap or two behind the safety car, had he known what a beneficial effect this would have on his finishing position?

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#2 TickTickBooom

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:13

I've always said that its not the drivers job to know what's going on anywhere on the track that's not immediately in front of him. They have pit-to-car radio for a reason, and that's for the team to keep the driver informed of what's going on elsewhere, and should include knowing all the rules.

McLaren - and the other nine teams - had ample time on the grid after the red flag to explain to Hamilton what his position would be in the eventuality of both a restart and an abort. The fact that they didn't seems a bit odd.

Maybe they were hoping that if they stayed quiet about it, race control might forget about the penultimate lap rule.;)

It's a bit early in the morning for me (7:10, body thinks it's midday, I am so confused), can someone split the top 8 into 'Winners and Losers' for me? i.e. Those who gained more points by not restarting and those who lost out?

#3 alfa1

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:29

Originally posted by roger_valentine
OK, step forward all those who thoroughly understand the red flag rules.


I also got the impression that the BBC TV commentary guys didnt really understand the ramifications of the restart or not question. Frankly, I think there were way too many people in the F1 industry, on TV and at the track, who were surprised to see the results change as soon as the final chequered flag was shown.
This is one of the few cases I can recall where the FIA guys knew exactly what the score was, and the players generally had no clue.

#4 wingwalker

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:32

One thing a lot of people (including Martin Brundle, quite surprisingly) don't realize is that in race suspended scenario clock doesn't stop, but the time of suspension is added to the 2hrs limit (so practically, the clock stops). So the time from the moment lights go off and the chequered flag is shown can exceed 2 hrs. This is what happened in Nurburgring in 2007.

#5 ensign14

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:43

Originally posted by roger_valentine
So, if the race had restarted, behind the safety car, at, say, two minutes to seven, then

a) the 'lapped' cars would be allowed to pass the safety car and line up behind the leading three – the 'unlapping' rule actually making sense for once, as these cars weren't really a lap in arrears anyway.
b) assuming that nobody 'did a Trulli' and went off (or overtook) behind the safety car, the race results would be as at the time of the red flag, i.e. Glock second, Hamilton 5th (or was it 6th?) etc.

The worst thing is that the "race" results would have Button as the winner in about 3 minutes. The first part of the race is totally expunged; unlike the situation pre-about 2003 when it would have been on aggregate (see Japan 1994 where Hill had to stay within about 6 seconds of Schumacher - and did so).

Then again I think the provisions about the order have been around for ages. Certainly it had an effect in Australia 1991, I think the provisional board had Morbidelli in about 3rd because of the final lap shunts, and Silverstone 1975, where Mosley complained that Brambilla had moved to 2nd when the race was stopped and shuttled back to 6th on the red-flag rule (IIRC only 6 cars actually saw the red flag, the remainder of the field was scattered around Northamptonshire, yet about 19 were classified). Mansell ended up on the Ox 91 podium in hospital.

#6 Racing Dutchman

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 13:04

I think the worst is from the FIA by not releasing any information.

They only said "Race will not be restarted" after an hour of waiting.

It is a freaking million dollar sport, they can pay a guy for a year to do the rule communicating in real time to the public just by the fines they collect in a weekend.

#7 ensign14

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 13:10

That was to keep the telly feed going, though.

#8 roger_valentine

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 15:17

TickTickBooom: 'Winners and Losers' (Those who gained more points by not restarting and those who lost out) :

Winners:

Heidfeld ( + one place)
Webber ( + two places)

Losers: ( - one place each) :

Glock
Hamilton
Rosberg


ensign14: Do you really think the published results would show a race time of 3 minutes? You could be right, but two things make me sceptical:

1) The 'half points' rule is based on the completion of 75% of ORIGINAL race distance. Clearly this would seldom be possible if the first part of the race is "totally expunged". (Never possible if the red flag is shown any time between 25% and 75% distance).

2) If the first part of the race is totally expunged, then the second part is stopped for whatever reason (e.g. 'bad light stopped play') with less than 2 laps completed, then the race would have to be deemed never to have started at all - no points for anyone.

I think a more logical result would be if everybody was credited with exactly the same time for part one, and this added to their time for part 2.

#9 ensign14

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 19:28

The official time at Spa 20-whenever after Burti had his big crash was just over an hour. The first 4-5 laps were ignored.

#10 BullHead

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 20:51

On a race restart is really true then that the stopped original part of the race is totally expunged? Why were they talking in Malaysia of at least stretching the race out to 75% distance if they could restart it for ten more laps? bbc/Brundle/EJ/DC ignorance?

#11 ensign14

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 20:58

It's not totally expunged, in that it counts for the re-start grid order. But the times taken in that first part are not considered for ranking the competitors. So, although they race for the required length, it's not a "ranking" time.

#12 BullHead

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:06

Thanks. Get it now. So number of laps raced still counts down in continuation, just competitors times reset. :)

#13 roger_valentine

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 13:56

Just checked the 2001 Belgian GP in Autocourse - their results page certainly seems to support the 'totally expunged' theory:

Race length, 36 laps. Duration , 1 hour, 8 mins 5.002 seconds
and two further bits of nonesense which makes this kind of 'result' totally unaceptable to me:

Burti and the other retirements from part 1 listed as DNS.
The starting grid is for part 2 only, with Schumacher on pole.

To their credit, however, Autocourse do include a lap chart for both parts 1 and 2.

Then I checked the Domenjoz 'Yearbook Without an Interesting Name' - quite similar results:

Race length, 36 laps. Duration , 1 hour, 8 mins 5.022 seconds (close enough to be a typo on someone's part)

But, Burti and the others listed as retired from part 1
The starting grid is for part 1 only, with Montoya on pole.

Sadly this lap chart omits part 1, however.

But, the interesting part is a comment in the text of Domenjoz:

"Later in the evening, the first four laps were addeed to the classification. In order not to change the order, the time Michael Schumacher did as leader of the 'first leg' was simply added to everyone's time. Got that?"

(My italics).

#14 b195

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 17:40

The rule in 2001 about stopping a race with two or more full laps completed but less than 75% of the race distance (rounded up to the nearest whole number of laps) was as follows:

158)
a) Other than the race order at the end of the lap two laps prior to that during which the signal to stop was given and the number of laps covered by each driver, the original race will be deemed null and void.
b) The length of the re-started race will be three laps less than the original race distance less the number of classified laps completed by the leader before the signal to stop was given.
c) The grid for the re-started race will be arranged in the race order at the end of the lap two laps prior to that during which the signal to stop was given.
d) Only cars which took part in the original start will be eligible for the re-start and then only if they returned under their own power by an authorised route to either :
- the pit lane or ;
- to a position behind the last grid position as directed by the marshals.
e) No spare car will be eligible.
f) Cars may be worked on in the pits or on the grid. If work is carried out on the grid, this must be done in the car's correct grid position and must in no way impede the restart.
g) Refuelling is only permitted in the pits. If a car is refuelled it must take the re-start from the back of the grid and, if more than one car is involved, their positions will be determined by their race order at the end of the lap two laps prior to that during which the signal to stop was given. In this case their original grid positions will be left vacant.

As the original race is deemed null and void, IMO I cannot see how the number of laps completed nor the time taken should feature in the official results (just like the original start/'race' in races that were restarted before two laps have been completed).

Both FORIX and the FIA website list results after 36 laps (the length of the restarted race), and either don't list the drivers who took part in 'part one' but not 'part two' at all (as they weren't on the grid of the restarted race), in the case of the FIA's results, or as non-starters in FORIX results (for the same reason).

I must agree with wingwalker that I was disappointed that the commentators didn't remember how the 2 hour rule worked despite the same matter coming into play in a similarly torrential downpour at the Nurburgring.

Speaking of wrong results, the "Winner" graphic that came on the screen when the race was called off was actually wrong as it showed Button's race time as 1:10:59.092 and race distance as 182.919 km ie 33 laps, instead of 55:30.622 and 171.833 km ie 31 laps.

If you look at the lap counter under the red flag this is also when it goes from 24/56 to 23/56 because this must have been the time when Button/Glock/Heidfeld got pushed from the rear of the grid (as they were last to arrive back on the grid) to the front of the grid (where they needed to be for the restart).

In the process this tripped the lap counter as they were pushed over the finish line and put them a lap ahead of the rest of the field, which is why the rest of the field were going to be sent off before them to unlap themselves when the race restarted so that things were back as they were before the red flag. The commentators seemed totally clueless to any of this as well.

#15 ensign14

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 17:57

I can't be bothered to check the rules, but how would this farce pan out if you had a race that was red-flagged and re-started with about eight cars? Would that make it non-title or something for having too few competitors? It's not even an Indianapolis-style under starter's orders thing, unless you had a heap of junk pushed onto the grid for each missing car.

#16 b195

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 18:49

At a quick look this is the only rule I can see that comes close to what you're thinking of:

5.7 An Event may be cancelled if fewer than 12 cars are available for it.

But that's more about cancelling an Event ie GP weekend before it has even begun IMO. The section in the rules regarding points distribution mentions nothing about entrants, starters or finishers.

I think the rule regarding points/whether a race is officially race relating to number of cars taking part may be determined by entrants rather than starters (I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong!)

#17 Clatter

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 19:17

Originally posted by ensign14
I can't be bothered to check the rules, but how would this farce pan out if you had a race that was red-flagged and re-started with about eight cars? Would that make it non-title or something for having too few competitors? It's not even an Indianapolis-style under starter's orders thing, unless you had a heap of junk pushed onto the grid for each missing car.


I'd put money on the original start counting as far as that's concerned and the fact fewer cars are available for the restart is tough.

#18 b195

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 19:23

The other thing to mention is races are no longer "stopped", they are "suspended" - so under current conditions the number of starters would definitely be those that started the original race as it is just a resumption of that original race.