Only 12 cars made it to the end of the first ever Formula One race at Mugello as red flags were called upon on two separate occasions.
The madness started from the opening lap as Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly both crashed out on turn two after the latter collided with Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen subsequently rear ended Verstappen who in turn was pushed into the path of Romain Grosjean. The Red Bull racer finished his race stuck in the gravel trap.
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Verstappen and Gasly were the first two drivers forced to retire from the race but far from the last, with four taken out in a chaotic rolling start.
Looking to get some heat into his tyres, race leader Valtteri Bottas swerved in and out as he approached the starting line at a consistent but slow pace as the safety car made its way back off the track.
That pace was apparently too slow for those further back in the grid as the back half of the pack accelerated in apparent belief the race was underway before Bottas had cleared the starting line. Running out of space quickly, the chasing pack hit the brakes suddenly resulting in Carlos Sainz cannoning into the back of a wall of cars.
In the aftermath, fingers were pointed everywhere.
“That was f***ing stupid from whoever was at the front,” Haas’ Grosjean said on the team radio. “They want to kills us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen ever.”
Bottas, the man at the front, said on the Mercedes’ team radio: “What happened with a restart that way, chaos was happening.”
In the wash-up no one was hurt but all five of Sainz, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Nicholas Latifi forced to retire. Esteban Ocon also had to retire due to his brake overheating.
“I’m okay and it looks like everyone is okay and that’s the main thing because the crash was properly scary,” Sainz said. “We were doing 290, 300kph at that point, it was probably everyone in front of me just thought that we were racing.
“Suddenly it looks like we were not racing anymore and everyone started braking again and by the time I saw everything it was too late and it was a big crash.
“It felt like at the back of the grid where I was, it felt like everyone in front of me thought the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realised the race was not on.
“Something definitely to look into the because the speeds we are going on on the main straight are very big. The crash I had could have been much worse if one of the cars was sideways on the main straight and I just took him (out).
“It’s something to learn from here because it is not a nice feeling to do 280 km per hour and find three cars in the middle of the straight completely stop.”
That crash brought out the race’s first red flag and remarkably the madness did not end there, with the session stopped again when Racing Point’s Lance Stroll suffered a heavy crash after puncturing a tyre.