On Sunday, 130,000 people watched the big race. However, the Formula 1 drivers didn’t think much of it because they called it “a bit of a mess”, “stupid” and one decision was said to be “totally unnecessary”. So it seems like this event will join others in being remembered for its controversial decisions made by sport’s officials.
More than 130,000 people gathered at the Albert Park in Melbourne for an amazing race that kept everyone entertained. However, it has also left us questioning whether this race was about sport or entertainment. Was the result a surprise caused by the decisions taken in F1?
At the end of it all, Verstappen was the winner after three red flags!
– Complete one full loop around and answer our six questions about the Australian Grand Prix!
Sunday’s Unprecedented Grand Prix
The drivers asked lots of questions after Sunday’s Grand Prix race, because there were three times in the race when it stopped – which is something that only happens every 36 years! Everyone disagreed about whether stopping the race was the right call. The drivers will talk to the FIA (a governing body) at the Azerbaijan race at the end of this month to discuss these events.
Alex Albon got into a huge crash on lap six of the race which badly damaged the barriers and left gravel all over the track. This made Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, think that it was hard for them to work with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) to try and improve things.
Russell just changed his tyres, hoping to get an advantage when the safety car was released for Albon’s crash. But then, a red flag came and it made the tyre changing decision he took look like a bad one. Even though some people profited from that red flag, Alonso said he was shocked by it.
Near the end of the race, Kevin Magnussen crashed his car into a wall and broke its back wheel. This caused the need for a safety car and then a red flag to be put up. Unfortunately, there was not enough time left so only two racing laps were done before another crash happened resulting in another red flag.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz caused two-time champion Alonso to crash and lose the third place he earned. As a result, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon – both in the running for points – crashed into each other too. There wasn’t enough time to race again because the lap used by the safety car to get everyone back to their starting positions was also going to be the last lap of the race.
The rules stated that because not enough time had passed, the cars would come back to the same positions as before the last restart. This meant that there wouldn’t be a new lineup for the race to the finish line.
Alonso still ended up third, but two cars crashed and another guy (Sainz) got a penalty for crashing into Alonso which meant that Sainz dropped out of fourth place in the points. It all started when Russell passed Verstappen at the start line but it ended with a power unit failure.
What Went Wrong? Making Sense of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Incident
There was something strange that needed explaining – why did all this happen?
The people in charge at F1, so-called stakeholders, made a decision that racing should not end with the Safety Car being on the track. This led to what happened during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when the Race Director didn’t follow the rules properly and made a mistake when bringing out the late safety car.
Lewis Hamilton had been winning the world championship race when he was unexpectedly passed on the last lap by Verstappen, who then won the championship instead. This event caused people to want to learn from what happened in Abu Dhabi, so that similar issues could be avoided if appropriate safety measures are used instead of just leaving out a safety car.
It’s strange that in Australia on Sunday, they wanted the race to end on a green flag, but it ended up finishing behind a safety car because there wasn’t enough time left for the cars to start again.
‘It’s a Common Topic!’ – Red Bull team principal and Mercedes representative weigh in on the controversary of ending the race with red flags
After his race came to an end, Verstappen questioned why the organizers decided to stop the race after Magnussen’s incident. He said that if they had used a safety car and then a normal rolling start instead of stopping everything, there would’ve been fewer crashes at the end and they wouldn’t have caused their own problems.
Lewis Hamilton, who was sitting beside him during a press conference after the race where he finished second, didn’t want to talk much about the topic. However, he agreed with Verstappen’s opinion by saying: “The same.”
Meanwhile, Alonso mentioned that he had questions regarding what happened during the day of the race.
“I was shocked to see all those red flags,” he said. “The first one was for Williams in Turn Six but we passed through there with the safety car despite there being some little gravel on the track which wasn’t really bad.
We can’t see for ourselves what’s going on on the track if we’re in a car. Apparently, one of the barriers was not fixed properly. The people from FIA (the organization responsible for monitoring and managing all racing events) know more than us, so if they put up a red flag, there must be a good reason. We will ask in Baku why they decided to do this – we think it might have been something related to a piece of tyre or debris found on the first straight but our cars were safely inside Turn Four.
The safety car is used in certain situations and the people in charge (FIA) know exactly what to do. Even though some people may have had different opinions, they trusted the FIA to take care of it. The people in charge realized that they are responsible for whatever happens, so they were more careful in their actions.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that he could understand why people would want to finish the race under normal, racing conditions instead of driving slowly for three laps behind a safety car. He wasn’t sure if it was possible to clear up the track and resume racing.
It’s a common topic that if it’s possible to finish a race under normal conditions, then people prefer to do so. So in this case, if they could shut down the race and clean up the circuit before doing it again, it would be safer. So that why the race was red flagged, because there was too much debris on the track. The problem is that this happened with only two laps left so there are Winners and Losers from this decision.
Toto Wolff from Mercedes said that he was surprised by the red flags being put out. He thinks it adds excitement, but they need to be clear on when and why they should use a safety car or a virtual safety car in certain situations like this one. He is ok with following the rules as long as everyone knows how things are supposed to work.
F1 Discussing a Drastic Format Change
Right now, F1 is discussing an idea to change the format of its ‘sprint’ weekends. Basically, they want to divide up the main event from the sprint race by having a special qualifying session just for Saturday’s race.
This means that on Saturday, a special qualifying session will take place – it will be shorter than the regular one but still follow the same knockout format. At the end of the qualifying session, we will get to know what positions the cars are starting in for the main race, instead of using the results from the sprint. It’s all about creating a show that looks good!
On Sunday, the people in charge of the teams agreed with a plan to move forward and have an official discussion about it. Then, this will be checked by two organizations called the FIA rule-making process and the World Motorsport Council.
People really want a new race in Azerbaijan soon. Even though it can be dangerous, they are still introducing something special. However, some worries need to be solved first. One of them is that the three-part qualifying process might only last for 6 minutes!
If a driver crashes on their very first lap and uses up all the time, how will things be arranged on the grid for everyone else? This is just one of the problems that have to be dealt with before the plan can go through. Red Bull’s car these days is much better than everyone else’s and it has been like this for quite some time now.
Red Bull Reveals Hidden Edge
The accident that happened in Melbourne took away from the race, which showed how powerful Red Bull is. Verstappen started in first place but dropped to third at the beginning of the race. After Russell made a clever pit stop and when the race restarted again, Hamilton was easily taken over by Verstappen for first place.
The Red Bull car is already the most powerful on the straightaways, as well as in the corners. On top of that, it looks like its getting an even bigger advantage from the DRS (drag reduction system) than any other vehicles.
Therefore, Verstappen was able to rapidly pass Hamilton before they reached a sharp bend at Turns Nine and Ten easily – just like what happened two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia!
At the end of a lap, Verstappen’s car led by two seconds, showing how much faster it was compared to the other car. He still managed to come out ahead at 10 seconds ahead even though he wasn’t pushing it as hard as possible. George Russell suggested that Red Bull were keeping their advantage hidden and weren’t showing their true potential.
He said that the show is holding back – that the participants are probably able to go even faster than they’re currently going. He thinks they could have up to 0.7 seconds over the rest of the people competing in the race. When asked about this after the race he didn’t deny it.
“He started to say something but then he paused and said there’s always a need for careful planning when taking part in any race. Because this specific race was one-stop and came very early, it was important to use the tires judiciously.
Checo Perez, Verstappen’s teammate, didn’t go too quickly so as not to showcase his skill whereas the grid was closer at this particular event.”
Everyone around the race track is amazed and confused at how good Red Bull’s car is this year. Usually, other competitors become closer in speed during races, when cars are not pushed to their limits. But Red Bull’s car has been getting better on race days – it has an even bigger advantage than before!
People wanted to know why Red Bull was so much faster than everyone else, especially when driver Verstappen passed Hamilton. Horner said it was because Red Bull designed the car for the race and not just for qualifying. This means that some cars might have warmed up their tires more quickly but had a harder time during the whole race.
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