Barnes: Monaco Finish Shows F1 Needs to Tweak VSC

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Formula 1 had the chance to take the day on a Sunday triple-header, but despite a fantastic race, managed to halt an intense battle for the win on a questionable call with the virtual safety car on lap 68.

Officials already had to manage a controversial non-call when race leader Lewis Hamilton appeared to cut the chicane in an attempt to hold off a charging Daniel Ricciardo.

When the VSC came out, the Aussie was 1.3 seconds behind the defending F1 champion. The VSC lasted roughly 30 seconds before Hamilton pulled a gap on Ricciardo, widening the margin to 2.3 at the restart.

That deficit remained for several laps before Ricciardo fell off the pace, allowing Hamilton to capture his second win on the Streets of Monaco.

Originally put in with good intentions, it is important to acknowledge that I fully support the VSC. However, the system needs tweaking.

The system puts the lead driver as the mark to pace the field when under caution, but as we saw in Monaco, that doesn’t mean F1 will condense the field before releasing them back to green.

That needs to change and so does the timing situation we saw today.

Under any situation where F1 recognizes a safety car, the speed of the field needs to be slowed while the track is being cleaned. How else can you clear a track the right way unless on cars are in a certain section of the circuit?

Plus, I hear that having a tighter field in the closing laps actually helps intensify the racing and gives the fans something enjoyable to watch.

And that field can be tightened if the drivers have more than 30 seconds to catch up to the leader.

Having the VSC out for 30 seconds doesn’t make any sense.

Communication from team to driver is next to impossible with such a limited timeframe and the unknown variable of a random restart, which is why at minimum the VSC should be one lap.

The maddening and saddening end to everything in Monaco is the fact that the racing had everything you could want, except the last lap battle for the win that began to really shape up. It was the perfect situation for F1 with two fan favorites at the front and somehow they managed to falter.

Nothing comes without obstacles and F1 just found a way to improve the VSC through today’s situation.

So, ever optimistic, let’s hope they learn from this mistake and move forward with something that makes more sense for the all involved.

Image: Red Bull Content Pool

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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