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The chaos which broke out after the final standing restart during the Australian Grand Prix produced many winners and losers.

Three separate collisions removed four cars from proceedings and left others counting the cost of crashes they weren’t to blame for.

The carnage cut a swathe threw the field and elevated several drivers to the front. Nico Hulkenberg briefly looked on course for a podium finish.

But when the race director took the contentious decision to restore the original restart order he and several drivers were dismayed to find themselves relegated the rear again. Meanwhile drivers such as Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll avoided the repercussions of having gone off.

Here’s what they said to their teams about the controversial ending to Sunday’s race.

Max Verstappen

After the last standing restart race leader Max Verstappen was concerned by falling light levels at the track:

Verstappen What is the plan here? Lambiase Stand by, Max. Verstappen Also the visibility is really poor. I can barely see in front of me if somebody standing in the sun. Lambiase Yeah, roger. Okay Max, so just over three minutes. three minutes. Verstappen But what is the plan? Lambiase When I get an update I will relay that to you mate. We’ve had no update.

Red Bull filled him in on the restart plan while he was out of the car. He led the field to the chequered flag behind the Safety Car, but expressed concern over how slowly it was lapped:

Verstappen led the field to the flag in low light Lambiase Just over one minute. Lambiase Okay Max so plan is Safety Car will enter the pit lane at the end of this lap. You will then take the chequered flag. It’s a rolling start i.e. just take the chequered flag. There is no overtaking until the line. Verstappen We are not doing a racing lap, or? I still don’t understand. Lambiase Okay, so here it is plain and simple. The Safety Car’s going to peel in, you can accelerate full throttle exit turn 14, take the chequered flag and that’s the end of the race. There is no overtaking. Verstappen Ah okay, okay. Lambiase Mode three and recharge on. Verstappen The Safety Car’s turning the light off and still driving like 120. Lambiase Yep, roger that, Max.

Lewis Hamilton

Drivers and teams were unsure whether there might be yet another standing restart. From second on the grid, Lewis Hamilton had failed to beat Verstappen to turn one (though would have lost the position anyway due to the decision to reset the grid) and consulted with his controls engineer Marcelo Martinelli – ‘Mad Dog’ – how to get off the line better next time:

Hamilton Is this going to be long? Bonnington Yeah, they’ve got quite a lot to clear up. Hamilton Is that Alonso out, or? Hamilton Mad Dog, that start didn’t feel very good. What did I hit target-wise? Martinelli [Unclear] Lewis was just missing a little bit of grip. Hamilton Yeah. Rears were way out of the window. Martinelli Yeah, it was difficult generating temp in the formation lap

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Fernando Alonso

Having run third for most of the race, Fernando Alonso was furious about being knocked into a spin by Carlos Sainz Jnr at the restart, and urged his team to press the case for the running order to be reset:

Cronin There’s trouble ahead as well. Cronin Red flag, slow down. Okay. Alonso Fuck me! Cronin Yeah, copy. Alonso Stupid rule! How the hell you can put a red flag before? Cronin Yeah, copy mate. Alonso Maybe because we don’t complete a lap, we go back to the same positions? It happened in Silverstone. Cronin Yep, we’re looking at that, we’re on that, we’re already on that. Cronin Just get the car back. Do you think there’s damage? Alonso It’s okay. It’s okay. Okay. Okay. Check this, immediately. Cronin So we believe the race is over, but we’re just trying to get confirmation on the classification. So just line up in the pit lane. Alonso Yeah. Even that will be okay.

To Alonso and Aston Martin’s relief, he got his position back. Although drivers weren’t allowed to race at the restart, Alonso kept his eye on what Sainz and the others in his mirrors were up to:

Cronin So just be careful with your… don’t overlap the cars ahead. The cars behind you might be bunching around a bit, but you’ve just got to keep line astern from the car ahead. Alonso So I don’t need to take care of the tyres, I guess Cronin All okay, there’s no racing. There’s no racing. Alonso I have people behind they are warming like crazy, so just to confirm. Cronin So just put a bit of brake temp in just in case anything happens. Put some brake temp in so it works properly.

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A red flag was thrown after the chequered flag due to a track invasion. Alonso urged Aston Martin to warn his team mate:

Cronin So Ferrari got zero points, Sainz was 11th. So we’ve got a red flag. Just keep an eye on your delta, keep it… Alonso Yeah, no overtaking. Tell Lance no overtaking Cronin Yeah, we’ve told him, Fernando, all good. Apparently there’s people on the tracks so keep a good eye out.

Lance Stroll

The reset was also good news for Stroll. He had skidded off at turn three by himself at the standing restart and fell to 12th place. The decision to reorder the cars meant his mistake was undone:

Michell So Lance they’re still trying to decide what the grid should be so we’re standing by. Michell So Lance restart order P3 for Alonso P5 for us. So P5 for us restart order. Stroll But, so are we doing a start now? Or no? Just going to be ’round? Stroll So can you confirm, are we doing a proper standing start and a lap of racing or are we just following the Safety Car to the finish line because it’s the last lap? Michell So Lance the feedback is that we will go out of this order behind the Safety Car, take the flag with no overtaking. Michell Okay Lance, to be clear, we go out behind the Safety Car. Safety car will come into the pits. You will stay on track and take the chequered flag with no overtaking. Stroll Okay.

Stroll expressed his relief at getting his position back after taking the chequered flag:

Michell Okay Lance that’s chequered flag. That’s chequered flag, Lance. That’s P4. Fernando… P4 for you, well done. Out one. Stroll Good job, team. Got away with that one! Michell It was good pace at the end when Gasly was dropping off so good job, mate, well done.

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Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez was in a similar position to Stroll. After going off at turn the timing screens showed he was in 10th place. However he restarted in sixth and finished one place higher than that after Sainz was given a five-second time penalty:

Perez Are we’re going back to our original positions? Bird No updates as of yet. Just into the pit lane.

Lando Norris

The red flag which led to the standing restart was triggered by Kevin Magnussen when he hit the wall at turn two, leaving a tyre on the track. McLaren initially considered pitting Lando Norris in response, then thought better of it:

Joseph And the safety car window is closed. The safety car window is closed. Joseph Lando possible debris between two and three. There’s a tyre. There’s a tyre. There’s a tyre on the left-hand side somewhere. Norris Yeah, a lot of debris. If they can just remove the tyre it’s fine. There’s not actually that much debris. Joseph And safety car deployed. Safety car deployed. Minor Purple C2 position nine. Minor purple C2 position nine. Lando. What are your thoughts? Norris What’s the gap? If I can take it, 100%. Joseph We will stay out. Stay out. Norris If it’s for one lost position, I think I’d still take it. Joseph Lando stay out Norris I would take it. Joseph Stay out. Joseph And Lando there is a recovery vehicle on track in turn three. Joseph Red flag. Red flag. Norris Ah ha. Okay.

McLaren used the opportunity provided by the red flag to remove a loose item from underneath Norris’ feet in his car.

Joseph Lando the thing in the cockpit, is it still there? Norris Yeah, it was. It was like on my heels. Joseph Was it bothering you? Norris I mean, I got used to it in the end. If you want to just leave it, you can just leave it. Joseph Okay Lando we’re going to take the hatch off, have a look, see if we can find this thing. We believe there will be one formation lap, a standing start and two racing laps.

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After taking the standing restart and moving up to sixth place, Norris was hopeful there wouldn’t be another standing restart. There wasn’t, and although other drivers swapped places around him he kept his sixth place:

Norris It’s finished, right? Joseph Well, I think so, yeah. But we’re just checking. Norris It has to be, must be finished. Other voice Lando feedback from the launch. You were on target. Pete just says do the same. The wheelspin was a little bit too much throttle. Norris It doesn’t matter, there can’t be another start, so… Other voice Yep, understood Joseph Lando apparently they are planning on resuming. Norris But… Okay. Norris There’s not been a ten minute warning or anything? Joseph There’s been nothing. Just stand by.

Nico Hulkenberg

Race restart, Albert Park, 2023 Hulkenberg had taken fourth at the restart, but lost it

Haas were so unhappy with the decision to change the order they protested the result of the race, but were unsuccessful. It dropped Nico Hulkenberg from fourth to eighth, which became seventh after Sainz’s penalty:

Gannon Okay. They’ve just published a restart order and we’re back in eighth. I don’t understand why, but that’s where we are. So we’ll be reshuffling the cars. Who was in front of Norris? Hulkenberg You tell me! Gannon Yeah, fine Gannon Okay. Okay. So we’re rolling back to eighth because they’re taking the start from before the last restart, and then there’ll be one lap and it’ll just go round to take the chequer under the Safety Car. That’s it. Hulkenberg But, I was ninth, no? Gannon Yeah but one car is out so now you’re eight. Hulkenberg Okay. So no more racing Gannon No more racing. So we’re just going to get positioned correctly and then they’ll give us a restart time. And we’ll still fit the fresh tyres.

On his way back into the pits Hulkenberg suffered a power unit failure which forced him to stop. Haas told him to jump out of the car as it was potentially in an electrically unsafe condition.

Meanwhile the race had been red-flagged due to a track invasion. As the stewards later noted, this created a potentially dangerous situation, as Hulkenberg’s race engineer spotted:

Hulkenberg Fuck, I lost the engine! I lost the engine! Okay, I think it’s okay again. Gannon It’s okay to go to the end. It’s okay to go to the end. Hulkenberg I think I lost the gear sync. Gannon Chequered flag, Nico chequered flag. Mode slow and you were three seconds behind Sainz. All right, Nico, stop the car. We need to stop the car. Find somewhere safe. Stop the car. Stop the car as soon as possible then P1 then wait five seconds then P zero. Hulkenberg [Unclear] guys. Good effort. Gannon Okay. Yeah. Good job. Nico you need to do an ERS jump out because the car is not safe, So just step on the bonnet and then jump. Gannon Why are they touching the car? Anyway tell them not to touch the car. You go on the bonnet and just jump off the car. Okay?

Zhou Guanyu

Zhou Guanyu was especially unimpressed by the restart antics, saying drivers hadn’t been able to warm their tyres sufficiently:

Becker Red Zhou This is fucking ridiculous. We have no heat. Fucking cold. Becker So calm down, Zhou, calm down. Zhou Just for your info.

The wait for a restart tested his patience somewhat:

Zhou Where are we? On the grid. Becker We are at the moment in P8 Zhou Yeah. I don’t know what you guys do, but it was literally zero temperature, like 60 degrees. Does it take long? Can I jump off toilet or not? Becker No, [unclear], Zhou. Zhou Okay, I’ll wait.

Once the plan for the restart explained to him, Zhou was dismayed to learn some of his rivals would regain positions they had lost by making mistakes:

Zhou We finish behind Safety Car? Or we do a standing start Becker We’ll be behind the Safety Car. Speaker 2 It will be one lap, one lap behind the safety car. The safety car is coming into the pit lane and it just crossed the finish line. The race is over. Zhou Yeah, but you know my position? Or not Becker I know. Yes. Zhou Where? Becker P10. Zhou Okay. Not too bad, but… Becker It’s no good for the team. Zhou I don’t know why once Stroll goes straight, he still gets the position back, into turn four? Becker I can explain you later. It has something to do with timing loops and the last position we can establish the order. Zhou Okay.

Valtteri Bottas

Like Perez, Valtteri Bottas started the race in the pits and worked he way forward. The crash at the final standing restart elevated him to ninth place, but when the field was reordered he found himself back outside the points, where he finished.

Chan Okay guys now we’re going to have a shuffle in the pit lane. So as it is the last lap it’s going to be a lap behind the Safety Car to finish the race. Bottas How come I go back to 12? Chan This was the last point the timing was established. Bottas Yeah, but if some people go off, you know, they shouldn’t be able to get back.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz was dismayed to learn he’d been penalised

Having been given a five-second time penalty, Sainz tried to leave his rivals far enough behind at the finishing line that he would not drop out of the points. He failed, by just half a second.

Furious at the decision, Sainz initially hasten his return to the pits, but had to slow down when the red flag was waved due to a track invasion.

Adami You can open 10 car lengths to Alonso, can open 10 car lengths to Alonso now and then push. Open 10 car lengths and then push, closing the gap at the second. Adami Good job. Automatic voice Chequered flag. Automatic voice Red flag. Stay positive. Adami Why red flag now Adami I don’t know. Adami What is going on? Adami Track invasion, track invasion for spectators, we believe, possible. Just watch out. Adami Going too fast, here, too fast. Adami P0

Esteban Ocon

The Alpine drivers bit their tongues after both retired when they collided at the restart:

Ocon That’s it. Peckett P0. Ocon Okay.

Nyck de Vries

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Albert Park, 2023 De Vries was taken out by Sargeant

Like Ocon, Nyck de Vries was also blamelessly eliminated, though in his case his team mate was not the culprit, but Logan Sargeant instead:

Hamelin Right inside. Okay with this situation. Okay. If you’re beached… De Vries Yeah. Hamelin P1 and P0 please. Someone hit you from behind De Vries Yeah. Anyway. Ugh, mamma mia. Okay, I’ll jump out. Hamelin Yeah a reminder for P0 please. Yeah. Someone hit you there. Sorry for that.

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

  • “Got away with that one!”: F1 drivers’ unheard reactions to restart chaos
  • Mercedes defend call to pit Russell from lead after ‘very surprising’ red flag
  • Alpine making “huge effort” to stockpile spare parts during break before Baku
  • Ferrari make worst start to a season in 14 years while Hamilton breaks a record
  • Ferrari tried a last-lap ‘Hail Mary’ play for Sainz – but their rivals were ready

Browse all 2023 Australian Grand Prix articles