During the practice session at Albert Park, it became obvious that cars were having difficulty following each-other on the track which caused a few close calls with cars almost crashing into one another. That’s why the FIA (the global governing body for auto racing) decided to halt the practice session for nine minutes so they could look more closely into what was causing this issue.
It was obvious that the lack of GPS tracking was the biggest safety issue, since drivers couldn’t know if there were cars coming up fast behind them or going slowly ahead. Without being able to see what the other teams were doing and getting warnings like usual during practices and qualifying sessions, this caused some problems.
It turns out that the main reason why F1 had a problem was not because of a technical issue with their GPS system, which still worked and was monitored by FIA. The thing that caused the problem was a server that shows and broadcasted tire data to live timing and TV graphic went down. After they solved the issue, it looks like Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped FP1.
The drivers agreed that it was a good idea when the FIA stopped FP1 because there weren’t enough GPS data for them. Valtteri Bottas from Alfa Romeo said, “It can be dangerous to drive on the track when half of the drivers are driving fast and the other half is going slow. That’s why it’s better for safety to stop FP1.”
Nyck de Vries from AlphaTauri said that it would be possible to carry out the race without GPS positioning information, but there is a risk of someone crashing because they don’t know if anyone else is parked in a blind corner. He thought that it was wise for them to stop the race as everyone was going so fast and were so far apart.
“It’s usually hard to see what’s ahead when the visibility is not good,” he mentioned. “This can be a problem if your team and engineer can’t tell you what’s going on, like what happened at Albert Park which has narrow roads with lots of turns – there aren’t many long straight parts except near Turn 1.”
The tyres on the F1 keep getting better and this makes people run in different plans. As a result, they sometimes face traffic while running. The second race of Supercars in Melbourne was started with an Australian flag instead of lights because the GPS data didn’t reach the F1 teams.
The information in this passage has been reported by Filip Cleeren and Andrew van Leeuwen.