McLaren’s Lando Norris questioned the practice of relying on a late restart to resume a race, suggesting the process is risky and isn’t always fair to drivers.
Norris spent most of his Australian Grand Prix in the upper part of the mid-field, running in eighth position. However, the events that unfolded late in the day eventually delivered a sixth-place finish to the Briton.
Earlier, the race had been red flagged after just nine laps following Alex Albon’s crash and restarted.
And it looked like the race was heading towards an orderly finish when a second red flag was brandished in the closing stages of the 58-lap event, with just a handful of laps to run.
Debris scattered by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen after the Dane had hit the wall brought proceedings to a halt and left everyone with the prospect of a second restart – the third standing start of the day – and a three-lap mad dash to the checkered flag.
But at the first corner, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly ran wide and triggered a chain reaction that eliminated four cars, including the two Alpines. The race was once again red flagged, but after a period of deliberation it was decided to conclude the event with the field running the final lap of the race behind the safety car.
Norris, although a beneficiary of the chaos in Melbourne, questioned the usefulness of halting a race with just four laps to go and then restarting it, claiming such a process only adds more risk.
“It just feels like you can do such a good race and, because someone’s a bit silly and locks up in Turn 1, you just get your race finished,” he said.
“I don’t like the restarts. I guess maybe in the first quarter of the race I understand it – the second half and especially with four laps to go, I feel like you ruin a lot of things.
“And I don’t feel like it’s fair for a lot of people who have done a good job and get taken out and it’s kind of race over. So, I doubt they’re going to change anything. I don’t feel maybe the second to last red flag was needed. I don’t know, I don’t see everything.
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“From what I could see in the car, I didn’t feel like it was needed. I felt like it was just a ‘four laps to go, don’t want to finish under Safety Car’ kind of thing, and it just caused a bad end to the race.
“So, I think if we’d just finished behind the Safety Car, it would have been a bit more straightforward.
“A bit annoying from our side, but I guess we got a little bit lucky and got the position on Gasly, but also could have been a lot worse at the same time.”