Toto Wolff praises F1 stewards for following the rules ‘this time’

Toto Wolff made a cheeky reference to the botched handling of the safety car period in Abu Dhabi last year following the anti-climatic ending to the Italian Grand Prix.

The safety car was brought out with five laps to go at Monza after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren broke down in an awkward position on track, with marshals having a tricky time removing it.

The situation bore an uncanny resemblance to the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December. Except on that occasion, cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were allowed to unlap themselves and racing resumed earlier than it should have under normal rules. That saw one final racing lap which allowed Verstappen to overtake Hamilton and clinch the world title.

READ MORE: Lewis Hamilton impresses Max Verstappen with sensational double overtake at Italian GP

As a result of that fiasco, race director Michael Masi lost his job and subsequently left FIA, the sport’s governing body.

At Monza, to the frustration of many, the safety car stayed out until the end of the race. Many observers felt the race should have been red-flagged and restarted or that the safety car should have come in earlier.

However, memories of Abu Dhabi clearly still fresh, Mercedes boss Wolff had no issue with how the situation in Italy was handled.

“The race director is always going to be under criticism but this time they followed the rules,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“Maybe they could have done it [brought the safety car in] a lap earlier but at least they followed the rules and they accepted that the race ends under a safety car.”

He then added with a smile: “This is how it should be or should’ve been.”

However, Italian fans were less than impressed that Charles Leclerc wasn’t granted a late stab to pinch victory off Verstappen and the race ended amid a chorus of boos from the tifosi.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto wasn’t happy either, accusing the stewards of “sleeping” and “lacking experience” during his interviews with Italian media. He doesn’t believe the current rules need to be changed but simply applied better.

"I don't think it's a matter of changing the rules," he said, per Motorsport.com. "The rules have been discussed, largely, especially after Abu Dhabi last year.

"They were discussed with the FIA, F1 and the teams, and we came to a conclusion that the current format is probably the right one to keep. So I don't think it's a matter of regulations today.

"I am certainly disappointed for how long it took them to decide, and I think we are not understanding why it took so long to release the cars between the safety car and the leader."

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He added: "I think they simply need to do a better job for F1, the show. It's not Ferrari and tifosi because if the safety car would have ended before, how would the race have finished? I don't know.

"Max still was the fastest car and he was on new tyres. But generally speaking, I think we should try to end the safety car as soon as possible and give more track time, race time to all the drivers.

"The disappointment of today was to see how long it took them to decide. And we believe in that respect, they [the FIA] didn't do a good job today. And they need to do a better job in the future because that is not good for F1."

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