Formula 1 is unlikely to hold its first real test sprint race before the British Grand Prix next month, but it looked like race director Michael Masi was eager to test the concept on the Baku street circuit. , with a round of two shootouts to wrap up the grand prize.
Previously, such an incident so late in an F1 race usually resulted in the announced result at the time of the red flag or a finish behind the safety car.
Just a few years ago, the prospect of F1 leaders stopping a race to secure a two-lap shootout – with a standing start, no less – would have seemed somewhat awkward; something unworthy of the pure art of grand prix racing.
So what has changed? Well, after working his way through the resulting chaos to finish third, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly put it better: “The Americans took over, so I wasn’t surprised that we were going with the entertainment.
This cheerful comment made me laugh, because of how various members of the F1 paddock have already spoken with a bit of nobility about how the Nascar and Indycar series use safety car periods and late restarts. race to artificially close the field in the name of entertainment.
For example, just last year, red flags in the Italian and Tuscan Grands Prix which led to stopped restarts prompted Sir Lewis Hamilton to voice his safety concerns, adding: “They are doing it. in Nascar: put the yellow flag all the time and safety cars, whatever, all the time to keep the race exciting.
The stop in Azerbaijan was clearly not a classic Nascar “ghost yellow” for debris on the track, however. Explaining his decision, Masi said he flagged the race because he knew it would take longer than the remaining laps to clear the debris; and while he could have finished the race earlier, he chose to resume it because “there was no reason not to do it”.
Masi added that the red flag rules allow every rider to change tires – a key move if there really is a problem with the Pirelli rubber. But still, he didn’t exactly deny that the entertainment factor could have been factored into the decision.
And what’s wrong with that? Sport on television is in essence entertainment, so F1 organizers should do everything possible to make it entertaining.
Admittedly, the shootout of the two towers was savage, unpredictable and thrilling. Was it fair? Absolutely not. Hamilton’s error on the restart cost him second place, while Sebastian Vettel’s mega launch saw him overtake Gasly and Ferrari man Charles Leclerc to secure a podium for Aston Martin who would otherwise have been out of his scope.
But sport is often not fair. Just ask Verstappen how he feels about losing the win because of that sudden tire failure. And the finish in the Baku sprint was fairer than ending a football match with a penalty shootout.
The simple truth is that sport is entertainment, and if an incident late in the race leads to the choice of a disappointing early finish or a wild sprint, I will take the latter every time. It might not be pure, but it is definitely pure entertainment.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-18 05:01:25