Correa: One Formation Lap ‘Unacceptable’ Given Zandvoort Feature Race Conditions

Correa: One Formation Lap ‘Unacceptable’ Given Zandvoort Feature Race Conditions

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Juan Manuel Correa criticised the start procedure used for the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race at Zandvoort and the chaos that ensued on the opening lap.

The race began with a rolling start after just one lap behind the safety car in accordance with article 37.14(e) of the 2023 F2 sporting regulations. That article can be invoked by the race director as an exception to the regular procedure of a formation lap with no safety car followed by a standing start.

In previous years – including 2019, when Correa first raced in F2 – the same article in the sporting regulations stipulated the completion of “several formation laps” behind the safety car before a rolling start commenced.

On Sunday, as drivers approached a damp Turn 1 at speed on cold tyres, Correa, who started seventh, made early contact with Ollie Bearman directly in front of him.

The incident earned the Van Amersfoort Racing driver a 10-second time penalty, which he served at his mandatory pit stop on Lap 8.

An accident for Théo Pourchaire two laps later then brought out the safety car at the beginning of Lap 11. By pitting on Lap 10, just before the pit lane closed because of the safety car intervention, drivers like eventual race winner Clément Novalak of Trident and fourth-place finisher Richard Verschoor of Van Amersfoort were able to jump Correa.

“I came out P12 [and] after that managed to come back up to P10 and get a point, but we deserved a lot more,” Correa told InsideF2 at Zandvoort after the race.

“The whole weekend has been unfortunate for us – I think best qualifying of the year and possibly the best pace so far, so to come off with just a point is really a shame. So I’m disappointed.”

Van Amersfoort Racing team boss Frits van Amersfoort told InsideF2 that he was ‘a happy man’ with the double points finish at home, but both he and Correa expressed disagreement with the early-race penalty.

“We got screwed there with the restart,” Correa said about the opening lap. “They restarted the race way too early. The track was fully damp in Turn 1.

“There was an incident in front of me and Ollie. He slowed down quite a lot, and I locked the rears and went into him. So I think to receive a 10-second penalty for that is very harsh, especially not a restart in these conditions. I think it should have been a race incident.

“That compromised our race quite a lot, and then also, we boxed one lap too early, then the safety car came [out] and a lot of people overcut us, so that was basically it.”

Correa agreed with the decision to run the formation lap behind the safety car but not with the timing of its release after just one lap.

“I just couldn’t believe that they were restarting that lap. We were arriving in Sector 2. We had no temperature in the tyres – everything was damp – and my engineer came on the radio and said, ‘Okay, the restart will be this lap.’ And I was laughing because I was like, ‘Nah, this is ridiculous.’ I knew it was going to be a disaster, and of course, it was,” he said.

“It’s one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen in my racing career to do a race start immediately in those conditions. It made no sense at all – very dangerous. I think we all got lucky that there wasn’t a big incident.

“[I’m] happy everybody’s safe, but for me, it’s unacceptable to have such a decision at a championship at this level and with the information they have. I see no excuses for that decision.”

Correa also said that starting on wet tyres instead of softs would not have alleviated the problems he and others faced on the opening lap.

“I called to start on the slicks. It was the right call, definitely; it just would have been nice to have at least another lap so we can pass through Sector 1 behind the safety car once to know what the conditions were, because we were all blind.

“I think six people went off in Turn 1 in the start, but of course, what are you going to expect? I could have told you that was going to happen before the start. [It was] quite an intriguing decision.”

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