Mattia Binotto: Safety car finish at Monza was 'simply wrong'

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto criticised the FIA for its handling of the final laps of the Italian Grand Prix.

Sunday's race finished under safety car conditions as a result of Daniel Ricciardo's late retirement from the race. The safety car was deployed on Lap 48 of 53, but complications moving Ricciardo's stricken car from the side of track meant the grand prix ran out of laps before full racing could resume.

There was added confusion when the safety car joined the track ahead of George Russell's car in third place rather than Verstappen's car as it was supposed to. It was not until Lap 51 that Russell and the 10 cars between the safety car and Verstappen were released, meaning there was limited time to undertake a restart.

Had the race resumed, it may have given Ferrari's Charles Leclerc a chance of passing Verstappen for victory, but Binotto insists Ferrari's missed opportunity was not the reason for his criticism.

"I think we could have finished the race differently," he told Sky Sports. "Finishing the race behind the safety car is never great.

"It's not for us, but for F1 and the show and I think there was plenty of time for the FIA to act differently today."

The situation had similarities to the controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi last year, although in that case the race did restart because the safety car restart procedure was not correctly followed by race director Michael Masi.

Masi's handling of the race in Abu Dhabi led to his replacement over the winter with Niels Wittich, who was the race director at Monza, and Eduardo Freitas, who shares the role with Wittich.

Binotto believes Wittich should have allowed Russell and the other cars ahead of Verstappen on the road to pass the safety car earlier than Lap 51.

"There was no reason not to release the cars between the safety car and the leader," Binotto added. "If they are simply waiting for the safety [of the marshals recovering Ricciardo's car], we know there is now a minimum lap time for the cars that are released, so it's pretty safe to run on the track at all times.

"So to wait so much is simply wrong and not great for the sport. After Abu Dhabi last year we had long discussions of how to improve because the final objective and aim is to try to restart the race as soon as you can in a safe manner. And certainly today it could have happened.

"So the FIA changed a lot in that area, but still I think they need more experience and should do a better job because F1 deserves a better job in that respect."

The FIA released a statement defending the handling of the race, stating that the safety of the marshals had been the priority, not making sure the race restarted.

"While every effort was made to recover Car No. 3 quickly and resume racing, the situation developed and marshals were unable to put the car into neutral and push it into the escape road," an FIA statement said.

"As the safety of the recovery operation is our only priority, and the incident was not significant enough to require a red flag, the race ended under the Safety Car following the procedures agreed between the FIA and all competitors. The timing of the Safety Car period within a race has no bearing on this procedure."

But Binotto believes releasing the cars would not have compromised the safety of the recovery process.

"I do not fully agree because in the regulations there is a minimum lap time that the drivers must respect, so they cannot simply go flat out around the track, they need to respect that lap time," he said when asked whether it would be dangerous to release the cars from behind the safety car.

"There was plenty of yellow flags and they are F1 drivers in the end, so I don't think there is any risk. So, as we discussed after Abu Dhabi, we should speed up operations and today we didn't."