Mika Hakkinen believes that Formula 1 must move away from races finishing under the Safety Car, such was the case at the Italian Grand Prix. In the closing stages of the Monza race, the Safety Car was deployed to allow for a safe removal of Daniel Ricciardo's stricken McLaren, which was unable to be pushed off the circuit. With six laps to go, any hopes of the race resuming gradually dwindled. Delayed deployment, the time taken for the Safety Car to pick up the race leader, and the car unlapping process took up the remaining laps. Red Bull's Max Verstappen took the chequered flag to win with the race still under Safety Car conditions, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc denied any late attack on the championship leader. This sparked debate on the entertainment value of Safety Car finishes, and whether or not the current protocols need to change. Two-time F1 World Champion Hakkinen believes that, despite the underwhelming finish to the race, the FIA were right to prioritise the wellbeing of circuit marshals. “It was very disappointing for the fans and television viewers to see the race finish behind a Safety Car," Hakkinen commented in his column for Unibet . "However, the FIA must put safety first and the marshals recovering Daniel Ricciardo’s car needed to be protected, so that was the most important thing."
Hakkinen hoping F1 finds the 'right balance'
It is widely accepted that the precedent for racing under the Safety Car was followed correctly at the Italian Grand Prix. Red flags during races have been used before, but these are typically for bigger safety risks, such as injuries, heavy rain, excessive debris on track or damaged barriers. However, many have questioned whether or not a Safety Car finish is good entertainment value. Hakkinen continued to say that a solution should be found, but not one that leans too heavily towards entertainment. "It would be great to find ways to avoid this kind of result in future, but everything has to be done in a way that achieves the balance between entertaining racing and ensuring the safety of everyone involved," added Hakkinen. "Sometimes these decisions are very difficult, but I can understand the disappointment of losing those final laps behind a Safety Car.”