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Stewards call for rethink following restart near-miss in Australia

The incident came after the first red flag, and involved multiple cars on the warm-up lap to the grid to take a race restart.

Formula 1 stewards have called for a rethink and review of the formation lap procedure behind the Safety Car after a near-miss in the Australian Grand Prix. After Alexander Albon's early crash triggered the red flag for gravel and debris, the cars filtered back into the pit-lane. Once the track was cleared, leader Lewis Hamilton brought the pack around in a quasi-formation lap for the second standing start, which was being used at the discretion of race control as opposed to a rolling start. However a difference in speed on this lap back to the grid nearly caused a big accident at Turn 6 where some cars had slowed to a crawl while others were approaching at 200kph.

Stewards call for rethink

In the incident, Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz all slowed down to maintain position in the order. Unaware of this, Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen rounded the corner at high speed, and were forced into taking avoiding action, with Magnussen running wide into the gravel. The stewards elected to issue no punishment to any driver for their involvement in the incident, but did explain how it had been triggered inadvertently by George Russell's slow exit from the pitlane. "Car 63 RUS, got off to a slow start from the pits and as soon as he left the pit lane sped up to make up the gap. That then resulted in the other cars behind RUS to be delayed leaving the pit lane and also speeding up," the stewards' verdict explained, adding that the effect of the Russell-led pack catching up to those ahead caused the concertina and that "this was not at all an ideal situation from a safety point of view." The stewards felt that "part of the problem is the regulation that permits the lead car to set the pace even when the restart is for a standing start from the pit lane (as opposed to a rolling start)." They called on F1 bosses and the FIA to look at the scenario "to see if this is appropriate for a restart of this nature" in future Grands Prix.

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