Given the poor reliability suffered by teams in testing, there has been a lot of speculation about how many cars might finish in Australia this weekend, with incidents potentially adding to the attrition rate.
When asked today, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said that he will stop the race if there are no cars left running.
“First of all, I’d like to say that I think a lot of these doomsday scenarios are quite unlikely, knowing F1 teams and how efficient they actually are,” he said. “But if it came to the situation where no cars were running, we’d just simply stop the race because there wouldn’t be much of one, would there? But being serious, I think that would be the only option. If the race couldn’t be restarted, as the rules say, then the results would be declared at the lap prior to the one during which the race was stopped, and whoever was running at that time would be the winner.”
In theory races can last until the two-hour mark, but Whiting said the clock would not be allowed to run down until the flag was thrown, on the off-chance that someone might fix their car and re-emerge.
“I don’t think we would [wait]. If it became clear that there wasn’t a race any more, because there were no cars on the track, I think we would stop the race, because there wouldn’t be much else to do, really. It’s not something that’s foreseen by the rules, and obviously it’s something that we hope doesn’t happen.”
Whiting agreed that, if attrition is high, cars that might normally have retired could re-appear after repairs.
“I’m not sure we should really be talking about this, I stress I think it’s highly unlikely, knowing the professionalism of the teams! But once they started dropping like flies, I think the ones that thought they’d stopped – because they don’t have to officially retire of course, they can come back out again – they might think hang on minute, I might get something here, let’s get this old girl going again and get back out there…”
They would, of course, have to complete 90 per cent of the winner’s distance in order to be classified and score points.