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Standing starts after a safety car. How daft is that?

Maurice Hamilton June 24, 2014
The 1987 Austrian Grand Prix took three attempts at a start before it got underway © Sutton Images
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Has the F1 Strategy Group no sense of history? Some might simply ask: Have they no sense?

News that standing starts after a safety car period are being considered came while the F1 teams were preparing for last weekend's race at the Red Bull Ring, formerly known as the Österreichring. It was here in 1987 that it took three attempts to get the race started, the second resulting in a 10-car pile-up from which drivers were extremely lucky to escape unhurt. The major incident was caused by Nigel Mansell being slow away from the front row; no reflection on Nigel because it's something that continues to occur down the grid at almost every race.

It was argued at the time that the pit straight was very narrow. It's not that much wider now but the obvious point is that standing starts, no matter where they are, provide potential for collisions. Perhaps that's the intention. I'm joking - I hope.

Apart from anything else, the business of a re-start causes a delay while all the necessary paraphernalia is carted to and from the grid and we go through the parade lap procedure once more. That would have happened twice at Monaco this year - and we all know how handy the grid is for teams stuck behind the long pit barrier - not to mention the wide-open spaces on the approach to Ste Devote. Talk about asking for trouble.

F1 is not about taking breaks inbetween bouts of racing. Rather than generate excitement, the pause for a restart could prompt viewers to switch over or, at worst, switch off and take the dog for a walk. It's a strange decision given that this silly piece of fiddling is supposedly to improve 'The Show' for television.

Rolling starts are a perfectly adequate and sensible way of dealing with the need to have the safety car. If nothing else, they bunch up the field, which is all that is required. Ask anyone from NASCAR and their penchant for spicing a dull race with a full course yellow by, as one official nonchalantly described it, "calling upon that well-known driver, Jean-Claude Debris, to do his stuff".

On a positive note, it was good to see that the stewards in Austria took a lenient view on Sebastian Vettel's minor tangle with Esteban Gutierrez. No action was taken in line with the latest edict not to hand down a penalty unless a driver was clearly in the wrong. The stewards' time should not have been wasted with this incident in the first place, of course. It would be nice to think officials read the column covering this very subject on ESPN F1, but they probably didn't have time for that while dreaming up this latest administrative gem.

But do not complain. Instead, let's hope that common sense prevails once more as F1 forgets its roots and looks increasingly foolish and desperate to do … well, just about anything.

Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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A veteran journalist in the paddock, Maurice Hamilton has been part of the Formula One scene since 1977 and was the Observer's motor racing correspondent for 20 years. He has written several books as well as commentating on Formula One for BBC Radio 5 Live
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Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1. A veteran journalist in the paddock, Maurice Hamilton has been part of the Formula One scene since 1977 and was the Observer's motor racing correspondent for 20 years. He has written several books as well as commentating on Formula One for BBC Radio 5 Live