Formula One under scrutiny over balance between safety and entertainment

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After a dramatic Australian Grand Prix laden with crashes and red flags, Formula One takes a three-week break from racing but debate over the balance between safety and entertainment may  rage through to the next stop in Baku.

Eight cars failed to finish Sunday’s race and four crashed out within seconds of a standing restart as stewards failed to produce a winner from a two-lap sprint.

Organisers also came under fire for security and safety failures at Albert Park after fans poured onto the track before the race was completed, while a spectator was struck by a piece of debris from a crash.

Several of the F1 teams will be busy during the break as they count the cost of cars wrecked in Australia and scramble to secure spare parts.

“It will be costly. Getting parts ready for the next race, I don’t know yet,” said Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer.

Alpine’s drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided in the chaos after the late restart and missed out on championship points.

Stewards had hoped racing would decide the winner but the carnage only served to trigger a third red flag and a processional win behind a safety car for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Though victorious, the reigning champion was scathing of the second red flag that brought the restart, saying it had confused the drivers and caused unnecessary crashes.

“So they created the problems themselves,” he said.