Valtteri Bottas felt he was not to blame for the crash that caused a red flag early in the Tuscan Grand Prix, but questioned the safety of the current rules.
Following a safety car period for a crash on the opening lap, the race at Mugello was red flagged on lap nine following a multi-car incident on the start/finish straight.
Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi and Carlos Sainz Jr were all caught up in the collision that saw many of the drivers further back accelerate earlier for the restart than the cars ahead.
Romain Grosjean reacted to the incident by saying it was “f**king stupid from whoever was at the front”.
Bottas was seen weaving and slowly leading the field to the restart line, leaving it late before accelerating, but said he was not to blame for the collision as he had acted within the rules.
“We’re allowed to race from the control line, which has been there for a while I think,” Bottas said.
“The difference this year is the safety car, they are putting the lights off quite late, so you can build a gap pretty late on.
“Of course when you’re in the lead, you try to maximise your chances, and I’m not at all to blame for that. Everyone can look at everything they want for it, I was doing consistent speed until I went.
“Yes, I went late, but we started racing from the control line, not before that. The guys behind who crashed because of that, they can look in the mirror. There’s no point whining about it.”
Bottas questioned the safety of the current procedures and rules that mean drivers can leave it so late before accelerating.
“I don’t know who decides what is happening with the safety cars, but they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights later, so you can’t build a gap early and go the corner before the race starts,” Bottas said.
“Maybe it’s time to think if that’s right and safe to do so.”
Lewis Hamilton defended Bottas’ actions, saying his team-mate was blameless and that responsibility should instead lie with F1’s rulemakers.
“It’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all, it’s the decision-makers,” Hamilton said.
“They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting, but ultimately today you’ve seen they put people at risk, so perhaps they need to rethink that.
“They have been moving the switching off the safety car lights later and later and later, and we’re out there fighting for position, especially when you earned a position like Valtteri earned a position of being in the lead.
“Then they are trying to make it more exciting, but today was probably a little bit over the limit perhaps.
“[Bottas] did what anyone would do.”
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon felt it was “obvious” that Bottas would leave it so late before accelerating, and that the midfield cars had tried to pre-empt this, causing the accident.
“The midfield I imagine know where Valtteri is going to go, and they’re trying to get the slingshot,” Albon explained.
“If Valtteri doesn’t go when they think he’s going to go, that’s when the concertina happens. It’s dangerous, but it’s predictable as well in that sense because the closer you leave it, the less time you let Valtteri decide when to take off, the more obvious, the shorter time he has to go.
“It’s quite easy to read. Even the top five were almost doing like a double formation start because we were all just waiting for the take-off. It’s dangerous.
“I think tracks like this are always going to be difficult as well with the long straights, but definitely something could have been done better.”