Lewis Hamilton has led criticism of the FIA’s timidity in delaying the start of the Monaco Grand Prix because of rain. The race was ultimately delayed by 70 minutes after a heavy downpour but the seven-time champion believed it could have started as scheduled, believing the sport’s drivers are more than capable of dealing with difficult conditions.
The grand prix was won by Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez but only after race director Eduardo Freitas deemed conditions too bad to begin the race. Freitas is one of the two replacements for Michael Masi who was removed after the controversy at last year’s Abu Dhabi GP.
The FIA cited the drivers’ lack of time racing in the wet over the weekend as one of the reasons for the delay and then starting behind the safety car. Hamilton, who finished in eighth, was convinced they could have taken to the track.
“I don’t know the reason for them not sending us out at the get-go, but we are Formula One drivers so [the weather] is not a good enough reason,” he said.
“I was like ‘let’s go’ when it was just drizzling a little bit at the beginning. We will talk about it in the drivers’ briefing but we should have started the race.”
The FIA have since cited a power cut, caused by the rain and affecting the race’s starting system, as being responsible for the long delay. Initially the race was held for 16 minutes, during which time drivers believed they could have been racing.
However then the rain intensified considerably. Two formation laps were completed behind the safety car before a further 45-minute hold.
The sudden surge in rain had caused the power problem. “The delay to the resumption of the race following the heavy downpour of rain was due to a power issue with the start systems, start gantry, light panels,” the FIA said in a statement.
The Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff however also cited a breakdown in the TV broadcasting as playing a factor in the delay, potentially also caused by the power outage. “The rain at the beginning was torrential,” he said. “Then there was an issue with the connectivity for the TV broadcast which meant we couldn’t get going.”
The circuit and its facilities in Monte Carlo are built up temporarily each year and the organisers are in the process of negotiating a new contract with F1, who will not look kindly on infrastructure failures such as a power cut preventing the race getting under way.