F1 “played NASCAR” with safety car, say Force India

F1 Fanatic round-up

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Interlagos, 2012In the round-up: Force India criticise the decision to deploy the safety car early in the Brazilian Grand Prix, which wiped out Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button’s 45-second lead over their rivals.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Force India says first SC period a joke (Autosport)

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley: “I think the safety car was a joke. I thought we were playing NASCAR. We could’ve done that debris under double yellow flags.”

Lewis Hamilton leaves McLaren confident he will win at Mercedes (The Guardian)

“When reminded that his gifts were more instinctive than technical, he replied: ‘I guarantee you that is not the case. I don’t need to blow smoke up my own arse. I know what I am capable of, although it won’t take a major effect until halfway through next season, although more so with the car for 2014. It just means I have to cram a lot into a short space of time. I don’t have a problem with that.'”

Vettel only interested in Red Bull (The Telegraph)

“At the moment, I don’t see any point thinking about another team or something else. I’m extremely happy in the position I am. It’s incredible what we have achieved.”

Jonathan McEvoy: So what happens next for Lewis, McLaren and Bernie? (Daily Mail)

“Will Hamilton regret leaving [McLaren]? No time soon. He finally found McLaren so claustrophobic that one team principal privately said he thought Hamilton would have rather taken a year out than stay.”

Driver-car affinity key to the title (BBC)

“[Vettel] drives the Red Bull concept – he turns in on the brakes, which gives understeer, then when he gets the brakes off, the front grips, the car rotates around the nose and he nails the throttle because he’s got confidence that the rear aerodynamics will make the back grip.”

Horner feared race-ending damage (ESPN)

“There was quite a lot of damage to the exhaust and they’re sensitive bits of equipment and to receive an impact like that was massively concerning. What we saw is as the pace picked up the problem became more evident; the loss that Sebastian had. Then we saw another bit of the bodywork disappear off the car.”

Champion Sebastian Vettel deserves all of our respect (The National)

Gary Meenaghan: “[Adrian] Newey and Vettel appears not just difficult to beat but omnipotent. At the start of the season, when the car was not the quickest and results proved unpredictable, Vettel showed his worth and his consistency to collect double-figure points at five of the first seven races.”

Humphrey: Why I’m leaving F1 (BBC)

“Contrary to some reports it not due to the rights change bombshell that hit us in 2011. Of course, not doing every race live was tough because that is where I think I and the team excel.”


Comment of the day

@Marcky was in the stands at Interlagos on Sunday – and in 2008:

I was there yesterday at Interlagos watching the race in grandstand A by the main straight. Got to say, it was an amazing race, even for us who were watching at the track getting soaked by the rain.

There was so much going on at the same time that we didn?t know where to look at, if we tried to look at the large screen showing the replay, we?d lose an overtake in the main straight or in the middle sector. Everyone there was just blown away after the race ended, we were privileged to have seen history being made live.

Comparing this year’s race with 2008, for me 2008 was still better (and I am Brazilian!). This year’s race probably had more twists and turns, and was more action packed, but the fact that in 2008 nobody knew who was going to be champion until the very last minute made it the ultimate thriller. We’ll probably never see something like that happen again.

And for me, it will always be a moment that I?ll never forget, the disappointment was so intense, I mean, we were watching a Brazilian driver about to become champion, something we have been waiting for a long time since we lost Ayrton Senna, and on top of that, he would be champion in Brazil! When I saw Hamilton passing Glock on the last turn, we were just speechless.

So, I guess this year?s race was more fun, but the 2008 Grand Prix was more emotional and intense.

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On this day in F1

Mark Webber scored his first win of last year in the final round of the season. But the manner in which it was achieved, following a gearbox problem on his team mate’s car, inevitably raised questions over whether it had been a true triumph.

Image ?? Sahara Force India F1 Team

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82 comments on F1 “played NASCAR” with safety car, say Force India

  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th November 2012, 0:10

    Interesting comment by Force India. Some commented about it in recent posts.

    I’m curious. There was debris at 3? different parts of the track, right? isn’t it better to “stop” the race rather than have 3 laps of double waved flags? specially in a race where the cars were so spread out on the track…

    I mean, we all complained about the yellow flags in Korea. I don’t think they’d have been able to clean the track in 3 different places in less than 1 lap time…

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 27th November 2012, 0:15

      And the problem was exacerbated by the short lap, meaning the gaps between the cars would have been smaller than usual

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th November 2012, 0:20

      I think Force India are just upset that the safety car bunched the field up and left Hulkenberg open to attack from Hamilton. We heard Vettel on the radio pointing out where all the debris was, so the decision to deploy the safety car was justified. Most of it seemed to be off the racing line, and normally that would be okay, but because of the greasy conditions and a lot of unforced errors from drivers, there was a chance that someone could collect it. If anything the safety car was left too late, but I don’t think there was a genuine problem in the way it was deployed.

      • @prisoner-monkeys But Hulkenberg made light work of the restart. The key to restarting properly from the lead is to bunch up the field at a slow corner and then put the hammer down halfway through the turn. It is something that requires experience but Nico did it well, rather unlike the experienced Barrichello who, in 2003, put the hammer down at the sweeping boxes and that left him under attack from Coulthard.
        Personally, I think Force India are ****** because they were forced to box when they didn’t have to.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th November 2012, 7:36

        I agree with most here saying that the SC was a good decision. We had just seen Rosberg take to the pits with a puncture, and there was a lot of bits on track in slippery conditions, making it all but impossible to drive around all of that.

        I can understand FI feel badly done by, just imagine how great it would have been to see Hulk winning for this team in a bit of turmoil, in his latest race. It would also have meant beating Sauber, so they had a lot running on it. It certainly did not help their case, but I would say that after a couple of days emotions will go down and they will understand it.

    • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 27th November 2012, 1:10

      Didn’t the same debris cause rosberg’s tire to blow? Maybe safety car was a bit overkill as local yellows might have been enough but it is hard to say how much debris there actually was on the track…

    • Jayfreese (@) said on 27th November 2012, 11:43


      Interesting comment by Force India. Some commented about it in recent posts.

      It was me, isn’t it? I desperatly wished for a Hulk podium at least that day.
      Both him and Button managed to keep their car on a wet track surface and cleared third man Hamilton 45 seconds off! So, in that way they should have been rewarded, but with hindsight, with debris everywhere, I wouldn’t want to put drivers in danger, as those kind of carbon pieces could cut your throat or fingers very quickly!
      Still mix feeling but…

      • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 27th November 2012, 12:33

        I agree, it is not nice that Hulk & But were, effectively, punished in this way. However, that’s how the cookie crumbles. I don’t think they could have safely cleared the track without the safety car. It was just an unfortunate side effect.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th November 2012, 12:34

        @jayfreese you, and others :P.

      • kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 28th November 2012, 16:26

        Umm…they didn’t “clear” anyone off. The 45sec lead was based on the fact that Hamilton, like the others behind him had stopped twice. When you factor in 2 x pitstops into 45secs, it doesn’t sound quite so impressive, does it? I see the Button/Hulk decision as a gamble, which paid off. The other drivers made a decision NOT to take the gamble, rather than an inability to stay out on slicks in those condition. Both drivers drove a great race, but we dont have to overegg the pudding
        Also, just before the safety car, the Button and Hulk were going slower tha the group behind them, due to tyre wear so the safety car actually played into their hands.

  2. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 27th November 2012, 0:13

    I desperately wanted Hulkenberg to win on Sunday and I too found the first Safety Car really frustrating, but those quotes really strike me as sour grapes. Regardless of any conspiracy theories, all that carbon fibre on the racing line was a recipe for disaster- and the consequences of a tyre blowout on the kinks before the end of the lap don’t bear thinking about. It’s a shame Force India couldn’t be more gracious in defeat.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 27th November 2012, 0:19

      What surprised me, that it could have been easily removed as field was still bunched up. But this is a trend of late, marshals seems to been ordered not to do anything until they receive a direct order from the “officials”.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 27th November 2012, 4:45

        Given the slippery conditions and the short lap, I think it would have been unsafe to have the marshals on the track. Even under double yellows the cars are still going very fast.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th November 2012, 0:32

      It’s funny, because Hulkenberg probably could have taken the place back from Hamilton, so the safety car intervention didn’t matter.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 27th November 2012, 6:54

        Indeed @prisoner-monkeys, and maybe otherwise Button would have taken his spot back anyway and would still have won – this way Huelkenberg switched one McLaren for the other one, effectively. Not sure that gave him a better change given that HAM got past him when BUT couldn’t earlier (other circumstances etc. of course).

        Huelkenberg just showed a lot of talent, and it is a pity for them it didn’t work out this time. Maybe FI is a bit sad he won’t be showing that talent in their car any more and this was their last chance?

    • Girts (@girts) said on 27th November 2012, 9:57

      I think that there were no gaps where marshals could have worked and Rosberg’s puncture proved that there was debris on the racing line that should have been cleaned up already earlier.

      Force India’s frustration is understandable and I think that Hulkenberg didn’t deserve the penalty for colliding with Hamilton. But the decision to deploy safety car seemed to be correct even if it was made too late.

  3. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 27th November 2012, 0:19

    Force India is clearly frustrated.
    They did the right thing.
    We already had Rosberg get a puncture from debris, so it clearly was
    an unsafe situation.
    There was debris on more than one corner and whit the spray a double waved
    yellow would have been to dangerous imo.

    I do agree that Hulkenberg didn’t deserve the penalty.
    It was wet and he lost the car, but it wasn’t wreckless at all!

  4. Hydro (@hydrouk) said on 27th November 2012, 0:25

    “He finally found McLaren so claustrophobic that one team principal privately said he thought Hamilton would have rather taken a year out than stay.”

    I’d love to know who thought that, maybe Brawn?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th November 2012, 0:34

      @hydrouk – It’s an unnamed source quoted by a tabloid rag. Odds are that it’s bogus, and the person who actually said it is the journalist who is trying to whip up some more drama around Hamilton and have his career with McLaren end on a sour note. If there’s one thing the British tabloids love more than building up the British drivers, it’s knocking them back down again in a very public way.

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 27th November 2012, 0:52

      My money is on Horner…

    • @hydrouk Personally I’m tired over this ‘break-up’ of what seems to be a love affair between Hamilton and McLaren. For gods sake, I don’t know why these British tabloids don’t shut up. Haven’t they got anything better to do? Like poking into the secret life of Prince Harry, or something?

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 27th November 2012, 7:04

      It does seem a bit overly dramatic, in typical tabloid fashion, so I doubt it was so bad.

      I do think, if it is true that Ron Dennis chose to not show himself at Hamilton’s good bye party, that relations could have been better. Hamilton didn’t entirely feel at home these last two years. Button did a good job of making himself a “nest” in the team, and as he did so Hamilton seemed to see that he himself didn’t (any more?) fit in in that way, and it made him edgy – he seems to really need a comfort zone around him, but hasn’t been able to create that well enough with the team.

      And of course, since Raikkonen, Alonso, Montoya (Prost going back further) all left the team not entirely happy with Ron, maybe it is just a matter of great if you fit in, not so good if you don’t, at McLaren. Even Coulthard hung on I think more bc. it was the best drive he could get rather than being entirely happy there (of course, he certainly wasn’t top dog after Hakkinen).

      • Baron (@baron) said on 27th November 2012, 23:16

        This is probably the wrong thread but I’d like to respond to the “Hamilton claustrophobia” remark. If you put those ex McLaren drivers mentioned above together I believe a pattern emerges and it is their mindset which clashes to a degree with McLarens standard operating methods – that of being “The Employer”, a clue to which philosophy lies in them keeping the trophies. I am not supporting or naysaying the principle, merely that drivers like Button Coulthard and Hakkinen clearly dovetailing with this approach and the others mentioned perhaps more egocentric. The change in Hamilton’s “comfort zone” clearly happened when he and his father split and Fuller alerted Lewis to the financial possibilities of becoming a global brand, which would have clashed head-on with McLaren’s principles. Mercedes were happy for him to do that and so the Hamilton Brand will flourish, at the cost, I suspect of his ultimate racing potential as a direct result of this over commercialisation of a person. Yo.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th November 2012, 7:39

      Its not the kind of thing Brawn says though.

      Given that Hamilton talks about having only about a third of the sponsor duties, It does show that this was a critical part of it. But I doubt Hamilton would have really wanted to take a year out, although he might have talked that way to Horner earlier in the year.

  5. Dizzy said on 27th November 2012, 0:45

    I think they were correct to deploy the safety car.

    As SoLiDG says above Nico Rosberg had already got a puncture from running over some of the debris & there was a risk others could also get a puncture as more debris had been put down by Rosberg driving back to the pits.

    Regarding Bob Fernley’s comments that it could have been dealt with by double waved yellows, Some of it was in places where marshal’s on the track would have been unnecessarily dangerous, Especially given how slippery the track was & how many drivers were slipping wide.

    Also it wasn’t totally like a Nascar caution because there was actually debris on the track.

  6. thejudge13 (@thejudge13) said on 27th November 2012, 0:53

    If I remember rightly (and there was a lot going on), Rosberg was being chased by a Red Bull (I think Vettel) and suffered a puncture from debris in the turn 4 right hander. It was very shortly following this that the safety car was deployed.

    I’m surprised we don’t see more punctures from carbon fibre shards after on track incidents prior to safety car deployments, in fact I can’t recall another this year (I’m sure someone can prove me wrong). Punctures do appear to be predominantly from incidents where the front wing of one car impacts with another’s tyres – but that’s another topic.

  7. celeste (@celeste) said on 27th November 2012, 0:54

    “If you look back, there was never people really, really successful in a really bad car,” Vettel said recently when asked how criticism affects him. “It’s a natural thing to happen that one day you have strong drivers in a strong team, so you end up with a strong combination and then obviously that is difficult to beat.”

    Nice article, and nice quoye… you can´t have a worldchampion on the worst car, at the end you need a decent car and a great driver to win championships… BBC, put it right, there have been more people on the space than F1 world champions…

    • @celeste You can’t have a world champion in the worst car, but Vettel never said ‘worst’ truly. Nelson Piquet won the championship in 1983, in a car which was arguably fifth-fastest overall(apart from the last three races).

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th November 2012, 7:57

      The Anderson article is really good, as it sums up what a team needs to be the best. Yes, Alonso did drag the team and car where it shouldn’t have been on pace, and his cars reliability helped him do that. Yes, Vettel did have the car at his hands to clinch the championship in the end, but at the start of the year he did not.
      And Yes, it was McLarens to lose at the start, after they had finally, after years of making up ground during the season managed to bring the best package to the start, but their own mistakes, and unreliable parts, let them down.

      All in all, this season nicely shows its really a team sport. You need the car, the team operations and the driver to take it to the flag.

  8. david d.m. said on 27th November 2012, 2:25

    Great article by Gary Anderson as usual, I particularly agree with what he said at the end: “F1 should be a contest between Red Bull and McLaren next year – if Ferrari can do anything to get on to the back of them they haven’t shown it.” The upside of course is that Felipe is much stronger now so there’s hope for the tifosi.

    • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 28th November 2012, 0:07

      Yeah, great stuff from Gary. He answered my question as to why Massa became quick all of a sudden. Im sure Fernando will be back on top at the start of the new season, hopefully Massa can keep his performances up.

  9. sumedhvidwans (@sumedhvidwans) said on 27th November 2012, 3:12

    Great COTD @Marcky!
    That is one of the best comments I have read and does a brilliant job of comparing two of the best races we have seen in recent times without disrespecting either.

  10. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 27th November 2012, 3:40

    Ironically the reaction of myself and a bunch of other NASCAR fans was that it was a NASCAR style call.. Though when NASCAR throws “debris cautions” there isn’t usually any debris at all which wasn’t the case here.

    If Force India had won the race or even got on the podium they’d be saying it was the best call ever, that’s just how racing goes.

  11. Between Vettel’s “dirty tricks,” Ferrari’s bizarre moaning about Suzuka, and now F1 complaining, this was like the sour grapes derby. You know what was “NASCAR”? Hulkenberg taking out a competitor with poor driving.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 27th November 2012, 4:59

      I think, given the amount of times we saw drivers go wide because they lost grip, it’s unfair to say it’s poor driving.

      • Franton said on 27th November 2012, 21:16

        Oh please! That overtake he tried would have been wonderful in the dry with a nice grippy track. It was always destined to end badly in the wet. Need we remind you that F1 cars at Interlagos don’t like simultaneous braking and turning down a inclined corner.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th November 2012, 5:50

      I think Alonso is just pointing out Suzuka as the point where he lost the title. If things had gone differently there – particualrly in qualifying – he would probably be champion.

      • Brace (@brace) said on 27th November 2012, 17:42

        Talking about dirty tricks. If it wasn’t for Vettel screwing up his lap, he’d be a place or two up the grid, and would have never find himself in the faithful position with Raikkonnen. Those things just leave a bad taste every time Red Bull wins a title. Vettel shown himself as a much lesser man, not only driver, then Alonso. In a whole year, I don’t remember any driver ever complained of Alonso, nor did Alonso get a single penalty for driver-caused incident. I’ve never seen him push people off the road like Seb often does, nor playing dirty tricks like overtake on Button in Germany, blocking Alonso in Suzuka or pushing him straight off the road in Italy. He then lied that Button never said anything about it, when he actually confronted him as soon as he saw him, before they went on the podium.
        It’s really unfortunate that on top of all of that Vettel is the only thing that is worse then a sore loser, and that is arrogant winner.
        This year surely not only that better driver didn’t win, but unfortunately, the better man didn’t win either.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th November 2012, 20:53

          Total nonsense. Vettel didn’t “screw up his lap”. Vettel moved out of the way, even going off road to not delay Alonso.

          Then you’re also nitpicking by bringing up the Monza and Hockenheim incidents to somehow tarnish Vettel’s character. Mistakes yes, but proof that he is the “lesser man”? Will the nonsense ever stop?

  12. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 27th November 2012, 7:51

    There’s an interesting piece in the Daily Telegraph which points out why Hulkenburg won’t be on McLaren’s Christmas card list. Here’s a snip

    Lewis Hamilton’s retirement from the lead of Sunday’s season finale in Brazil is estimated to have cost the Woking team around $12 million (£7.5 million), the difference between second and third place in the constructors’ championship.

    And here#’s a link to the online article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/mclaren/9704138/McLaren-count-cost-of-Lewis-Hamiltons-Brazil-race-retirement-as-Red-Bull-award-10000-bonus-to-staff.html

  13. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 27th November 2012, 8:28

    Un-classy from Force India. There were debris all around the track. I’m sure that if the race wasn’t stopped and it was Nico HULKENBERG who got the puncture, instead of Nico Rosberg they would sing different songs

  14. jochenrindt78 (@jochenrindt78) said on 27th November 2012, 9:18

    Can anybody confirm that F1 2013 will be shown on the BBC? The final race seemed to indicate that it would?

  15. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 27th November 2012, 9:21

    Wonder what Martin Whitmarsh though of the safety car. I guess he had mixed feelings, with one McLaren (Button) that hadn’t stopped and was 40 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

    Bob Fearnley’s comments about Kovalainen make the whole thing sound like a bit of a rant, but closing up the field did seem a bit false at the time, and I never like safety cars when there are lapped runners because it all takes so long. The rest of the field going extra slow (and their tyres going cold) to let them catch up – isn’t that almost as dangerous as having debris on the track? Either, or both, these things may have caused Ayrton Senna’s accident – don’t they ever learn?

    • kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 28th November 2012, 16:16

      The safety car actually sparred Hulk and Button a few blushes; as the rest were catching them just before that point. And remember that this mythical 45sec lead was because the drivers behind them had stopped twice – not because of some jesus like ability to walk on water.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th November 2012, 16:35


        mythical 45sec lead

        There was nothing “mythical” about it – as you can see it here it was an “actual” 45 second lead:

        2012 Brazilian Grand Prix lap charts

        The safety car actually spared Hulk and Button a few blushes; as the rest were catching them just before that point.

        On lap 19 Hulkenberg was 45.5s ahead of Hamilton. On lap 21 his lead remained a non-mythical 45 seconds. He wasn’t in danger of being caught any time soon with a three-quarter of a minute lead at a rate of a quarter of a second per lap.

        • kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 28th November 2012, 20:15

          I agree Keith, but i meant “mythical” in the sense of which it had been expressed by quite a few on the site. The size of the lead was simply down to they guys behind having made 2 stops. And whilst they may not have been caught soon, they were definitely being caught – and i’m sure u meant three-quarter of an hour.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th November 2012, 23:57


            i’m sure u meant three-quarter of an hour

            No, 45 seconds is three-quarters of a minute.

            Hamilton had 50 laps to catch him, so would he have done it before the end of the race at that rate?

            Not even close. At a quarter of a second per lap it would have taken Hamilton 180 laps to catch Hulkenberg. That’s more than two-and-a-half Grand Prix distances.

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