Tuscan GP chain-reaction F1 crash: Explaining what happened

Formula 1’s debut at Mugello featured a hugely dramatic and controversial chain-reaction crash involving multiple cars on the circuit’s pit straight.

Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, all running near the back of the field, were caught up in the incident which caused the Tuscan GP to be red-flagged for the first of two occasions on Sunday.

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“The crash was properly scary,” said Sainz, who collided with both Magnussen and Giovinazzi amid huge closing speeds.

All drivers walked away unscathed.

Race stewards are investigating the incident, with Magnussen, Latifi and Daniil Kvyat – who was ahead of the melee – called to talk through what happened.

What exactly happened?

The accident occurred as the field bunched up for the lap-five restart, drivers having run behind the Safety Car since the opening lap after an initial multi-car incident which led to Max Verstappen’s retirement.

Once the Safety Car pits, the race leader – in this case, Valtteri Bottas – is left to control the pace of the pack with drivers not allowed to overtake each other until crossing the start-finish line.

With the tow particularly powerful down Mugello’s long pit straight, Bottas waited until the last moment possible to up his pace – meaning the field inevitably bunched up behind him. But, while the Finn and the rest of the front-runners got up to full speed without incident once the Mercedes put the hammer down, there was chaos further back as the concertina effect seemingly caught drivers out.

“There were effectively two starts going on there and the second start met up with the first one before they accelerated,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.

SkyPad analysis: What went wrong?

In detailed analysis of the incident on the SkyPad, Anthony Davidson explained: “You have to wait for the guy in front. What we saw was a terrible chain reaction.

“Inexperience from drivers not used to doing rolling starts in this sense. They are used to just flooring it out of the final corner and relying on the dirty air to give them a bit of a gap.

“That’s not going to work on this track on this 1km-long straight. That’s why Mercedes would have gone through the process on how you do a restart.”

What did the drivers involved say?

Carlos Sainz, McLaren
“The crash was properly scary. We are doing 290-300kph at that point because probably everybody in front of me felt that we were racing. Suddenly it looks like we were not racing anymore and everyone started braking again and why the time I saw everything it was just too late and it was a big crash.”

Nicholas Latifi, Williams
“Normally a concertina effect like that really happens if the leader is not keeping a consistent pace. I don’t know if that was the case because obviously I can’t see whoever was in front, I’m just reacting to the cars in front [of me] and they were spacing out quite a bit.

“I almost hit the back of Magnussen already in Turn 15, really, really close to smashing into the back of him, and then again it seemed like everyone went and stopped.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas
“What seems to have happened is that the front guys, the leader, was going slow all the way to the line, which he is entitled to do. But then somewhere in the middle between me and the front somebody decided to go and I guess maybe somebody decided to open a gap to really get momentum over the line, but then maybe too early and had to stop again.

“But in any case we went, the guy in front of me started to go, and we were flat for at least a few seconds. Then suddenly they all braked, I braked, I saw people coming past and I got hit.”

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