Winner Sebastian Vettel, a lover of F1 history and a racing ‘purist’, admitted he actually enjoyed how trackside spectators breached the circuit perimeter just after he crossed the chequered flag.
“It was mad – in a positive way – when there were people running on track going wild with Ferrari flags,” said the German. “It was unbelievable.”
Less impressed were the local race organisers, however, as well as the sport’s governing FIA, in light of the serious safety breach.
“Normally, spectators are only allowed on the track once the course car completes the lap behind the last driver in the field,” F1 race director Charlie Whiting is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
“This time, for some reason the gates were opened in turn 15 before this happened. There were probably some overly euphoric Ferrari fans,” he added.
“Fortunately, no dangerous situation arose but we will investigate what happened,” said Whiting.
Andrew Westacott, the boss of the race promoter the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, thinks what happened was “a mistake in the signals”.
“I am concerned because we have very, very strict processes that for 21 races have worked beautifully so something went amiss,” he told Speedcafe.
An initial investigation conducted by circuit operator CAMS found that spectator gates were indeed opened “without clearance from race control”.