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It wasn’t just F1 fans who were left fuming by the anti-climatic finish to the Italian Grand Prix.
The race disappointingly ended behind the safety car, which initially picked up third-place man George Russell instead of leader Max Verstappen when it was deployed after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren broke down in an awkward position between the two Lesmo corners.
With marshals struggling to remove the stricken car and the pack taking time to line up behind the safety car, time ran out for racing to resume. The Italian fans showed their disapproval by booing Verstappen past the chequered flag.
READ MORE: F1 fans point out rule which could still strip Max Verstappen of world title
Many observers believe the race should have either been red-flagged and restarted or that racing should have resumed for at least one lap. Either way, it was widely accepted that a race finishing behind the safety car is a bad look for the sport.
Among those disappointed by the finish was Channel 4's F1 commentator Alex Jacques, who raged as the cars trundled around the high-speed track: “We’re on the penultimate lap and we might be denied a restart here, even if they do clear up the McLaren from the Lesmos.
“A communication breakdown between some cars and others… It is heading to be an almighty mess once again. The field was told to un-lap themselves but [Valtteri] Bottas and [Yuki] Tsunoda don’t appear to have got the message.
“And look at the frustration because this man [Charles Leclerc] knows the rule book, arm off the steering wheel [in frustration]. Something has not been communicated to two cars, and a weekend of confusion and rancour between teams and the FIA is about to be shared by the 100,000 who line the circuit. You can forget about your grandstand finish.”
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Co-commentator and former F1 driver David Coulthard then chipped in: “This has not been a slick operation.”
Jacques continued: “It’s the fastest sport in the world but the decision-making over the past couple of years… The track is clear. If the message had been communicated effectively, we could have had a last-lap restart. We’re in a situation where we’re wondering what might have been.
“This is a fabled race track, it’s seen some astonishing finishes, it’s seen the closest finish in Formula 1 history [in 1971] but this sport that we all adore, this brilliant sport that brings us all joy, is going to go onto the last lap.
“It is now time to do something about this because we wanted to talk about a brilliant wheel-to-wheel battle between two of the best drivers in the world, with a Ferrari chasing the world champion-elect.
“No one watches Formula 1 for the rulebook, we all watch it for wheel-to-wheel action and it’s now time to get in a room and get a modern rulebook, a modern procedure, race directors that know it and someone who can run a Grand Prix so that what we’re talking about is the exquisite talent of these drivers.
“We’re on the final lap of the Italian Grand Prix and this is as about as disappointing as it gets.”
Jacques, who previously commentated for F1 TV before switching to Channel 4, which shows the sport's highlights in the UK, concluded his tirade with a reference to last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where a poorly handled safety period denied Lewis Hamilton an eighth world title.
“It is worth saying that, unlike other occurrences in the last couple of years, Max Verstappen had won the race in the racing laps that we had.," he said. "He covered off Charles Leclerc, who did not have the ability to close him down. We haven’t got the grandstand finish we all wanted, but at least we are going to end up with the right winner.”
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