Formula 1 Drivers Test New Standing Restart System in Spain

The FIA's plan to spice up Grand Prix restarts is officially in motion.

Do you feel like Formula 1 could use a healthy dose of risqué restarts in order to drum up some artificial excitement? Well, the FIA thinks so, and it’s already giving its master plan a trial at this week’s second and final pre-season test in Barcelona, Spain. Needless to say, the stunt was received with mixed emotions in the paddock, as well as in the grandstands.

Drivers for Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams, Haas and Red Bull F1 teams were the guinea pigs in the first-ever systems-check, which took place at the end of open track testing on Tuesday, according to Motorsport. The standing restart system will operate via the same trackside light panels that currently announce the presence of a safety car (SC) or virtual safety car (SFC) to the drivers, but they will display standing start (SS) or rolling start (RS) instead. Drivers will also receive warning lights on their steering wheels, as well as confirmation via their onboard radios on which type or restart will be taking place.

Red Bull’s RB14 lines up for standing restart practice., Red Bull

Perhaps the most important tidbit that still isn’t clear is what criteria the FIA will follow or what the deciding factors will be to implement a standing restart, or not, during a Grand Prix. Of course, this is merely an attempt to artificially enhance the quality of racing for the sake of viewership, but it’s far from being fair. Why should a leading driver be forced to bring his car to a halt and further degrade his clutch, engine, and tires for the sake of “spicing things up?”

Most of the drivers kept to themselves about the restart gimmick, with the exception of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen. “This surface needs a lot of temperature,” said Magnussen. “The restart stuff we did at the end was impossible. We couldn’t have done that in a race, I couldn’t get my tires to work at all – I could barely get going.”