Yes, its standing restarts again. Double points proved controversial when they were introduced last year and on this occasion, standing restarts are causing disgruntlement among the fans. However, Charlie Whiting has defended the new regulation, stating that because the start is considered to be the most exciting part of the race, “why not have a second one?” Not only that, Whiting identified that it was a discussion with an unnamed member of McLaren in which the idea was born. So, has Whiting convinced the public that standing restarts are a good idea.
Whiting identified that “I can’t see any downside to it” – a strong statement to make – particularly when criticisms of the idea have been sourced in both the paddock as well as through the usual routes of social media and the press.
Whiting went on to scoff at those who considered the idea to be dangerous, and in all honesty, he has a fair point. Some fans stated that if more than one start took place during a race, the sport would become unsafe, which is a huge overestimation. If standing starts were dangerous, we would see not only more opening lap accidents, but I doubt the FIA would have continued using said procedures if it was endangering the drivers. This is the FIA, a body who proved as recently as the last race that they will never neglect safety regardless of the cost. A one hour barrier repair at a spot where the likelihood of another car connecting with that particular panel of Armco was about the same as the chances of England winning last nights match – a match, they weren’t even playing in! However, safety has to come first and it would be foolish to think that neither the Strategy Group nor the WMSC had considered safety as a priority when formulating this regulation.
“It will provide more excitement;” Whiting established, “you seldom get any changes of position at a rolling restart, so this might provide an opportunity for changes in position.” Again, this is a valid comment. When a rolling restart takes place, it takes a driver being caught napping for an overtake to be completed.
Standing restarts will reshuffle the order, but this brings up an issue in itself and one which Whiting failed to defend. That is the idea that this is hugely artificial – purists are only just coming to terms with DRS, let alone significantly influencing the running order of a race and potentially increasing the risk of contact, on the basis of making the race more entertaining. It is almost akin to the utterly ludicrous “Fanboost” which will feature in Formula E. Ultimately, this is the fundamental issue with standing restarts, which all the endorsement in the world will not correct – even the endorsement of the Race Director.