Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi says the decision to red flag the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was “in the best interest of the sport”, in order to facilitate a late restart.
Long-time leader Max Verstappen crashed out after 45 of the 51 scheduled laps due to a left-rear tyre failure along the main straight.
The Safety Car was eventually deployed but Race Control then halted proceedings after 48 laps – leaving three laps left to run.
Once Verstappen’s car, and the debris, was cleared from the track the signal was given for a standing restart, allowing for two further laps of racing.
“Thankfully for a number of years now we’ve had the race suspension regulations,” said Masi.
“So when a race was red flagged after a certain distance [and not restarted] it would go back two laps and so forth.
“But obviously with the race suspension element, yes there is an option not to restart. But within the timeframe and within the format of the regulations, we can restart, and there was no reason not to.”
The operation to recover Lance Stroll’s stricken Aston Martin earlier in the race was undertaken behind the Safety Car, rather than under a race suspension.
In explaining the different call, Masi said: “Obviously in the middle of the race, there was more than enough time, space, on the right-hand side of the track when we were recovering it, and confident with the way that that could be cleaned up in that fashion.
“As I said, when looking at everything, we weren’t confident that the recovery [of Verstappen’s car] on the pit straight and the amount of debris that was everywhere could be cleared up in the appropriate time.
“So we thought it was in the best interests of the sport to suspend and then restart in that circumstance.”