The start of the British GP was an underwhelming joke. The grid snaked behind the safety car for so long that some began to question whether the Mercedes safety car was actually out there testing the tyre life of its own wet tyres.
The amended plan will still see the grid follow the safety car for a few laps in the wet. But instead of the safety car reeling in and the grid taking off from there, drivers will retake their positions on the starting grid and take the standard race start procedure – Puddles or no puddles.
This would make the initial safety car laps more like formation laps on the wet compound. Toto Wolff is a key voice in the paddock and supports the idea despite the plan giving Mercedes a disadvantage. He said,
“As far as Silverstone is concerned we should have let them off the leash a lap or two earlier.
In my opinion if I could define the rules, and I can’t clearly, let them follow the safety car for a lap or two to see what’s happening out there, and then the safety car comes in and they do a standing start, which is clearly one of the most exciting things. Or if we stick with the current rules, just pit.
I think due to the circumstances around Jules [Bianchi’s] accident and the aftermath there is an ‘uber caution’ which is being deployed at the moment.
You can somehow understand that, but I think we have to come back to what motor racing is all about, which is having the best drivers out there in the most powerful machines in tricky conditions. They can manage that.”
– Toto Wolff
A standing start is a necessary ingredient for an entertaining race. In many ways, the start of the British GP took too much of the limelight after what was a very fun race to watch.
Not everyone in the Formula One paddock agrees with a change in wet weather start procedures though. Jenson Button said,
“Silverstone was right to start behind the safety car because we all would have ended up in the gravel trap, half of us probably upside down, so it was right at Silverstone.
I think the issue at Silverstone was the safety car was out way too long, but the drainage was very bad at Turn 1 – it was like a lake. You arrived there and you didn’t know what you were going to get.”
– Jenson Button
You’d think a celebrated wet-weather-warrior like Button would want these changes, but apparently not!