June 14, 2024
Max Verstappen

Lando Norris was the beneficiary of the safety car intervention during the Miami Grand Prix, with the timing of it being called essentially handing him a free pit stop, to which Max Verstappen initially responded by saying: “What the fuck?”

Max Verstappen’s initial reaction to being picked up by the safety car at the Miami Grand Prix, as opposed race leader Lando Norris shows the Dutch driver quickly acquiesced with the situation.

“I guess there is not much we can do now,” the three-time drivers’ champion told race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase over team radio. This came after his first reaction to the situation of: “Huh, what the fuck?”

Whilst the Red Bull had led during the early stages at the Miami International Autodrome, the McLaren had been promoted to the lead during the pit stop phase, with the Woking team opting to run Norris long.
When Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant came together on lap 28, it looked as if a safety car intervention might provide the Briton with the opportunity to bank a cheap pit stop.

However, that decision was made just slightly too late for the safety car to pick up the 24-year-old, meaning the first driver picked up by Bernd Maylander in the safety car was Verstappen from second position.
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FIA response to safety car timing
As a result of the timing of the safety car call, Norris was able to circulate at the delta time, extending his lead and being able to make a pressure and time-free pit stop at the end of the that lap.

The safety car eventually had to let the field go in order to pick up the McLaren, or Norris would have essentially been gifted a lap advantage over the rest of the pack.

In response to RacingNews365, the FIA clarified the situation, explaining why the safety car had indeed picked up Verstappen as opposed to Norris.

“It was a late call to send the safety car out, so they missed [Lando] Norris by about 20 meters,” the FIA said.

“And then at that point race control decided to go for a slow lap to gather all the cars and to allow the marshals to start the recovery of the vehicle, which wouldn’t have been possible if they’d let all cars pass the SC [safety car] directly. So they waited until all cars were gathered together before allowing them to pass.”

Had the safety car picked up Norris, the McLaren would have still been at a net gain – likely emerging ahead of the sixth-place he occupied prior to the pit stop phase, but due to the timing of the call, he was afforded an entirely free stop at the end of lap 29.

There was, however, no mistake or error made by the safety car. As per the regulations, it is not required to pick up the race leader, something Verstappen and Red Bull realised, with the Dutchman consigned to his unfortunate fate.

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