The controversial second red flag at the Brazilian GP was prompted by a desire to try to run the race in a better weather window later on rather than because track conditions were too bad to start it then, Motorsport.com has learned.
After the first red flag prompted by Kimi Raikkonen's crash on the start/finish line on lap 20, the race resumed behind the safety car, but was stopped again on lap 28 despite a number of drivers claiming the conditions were good enough to race.
That second stoppage drew boos from the crowd, and criticism from Niki Lauda, who said it was the worst decision he had seen in F1.
But sources have revealed the reason for the stoppage was not because the track was too wet to race, but because the forecast was predicting a brief spell of worse weather to run that would have meant yet more delays.
It was felt better for fans that the race be red-flagged – so the clock stopped – to get the worst of the weather out of the way so that more of the full distance could be completed later on with cars actually racing.
Had that second red flag not helped it run in a better weather window, then there would have been even more laps behind a safety cars and the grand prix getting timed out at two hours with less track action.
In the end, the decision proved spot on with the Brazilian GP running to the full distance and the only subsequent safety car being required for accidents.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted that the FIA had been in a tricky spot in deciding when to let the cars race, but thinks F1 race director Charlie Whiting ultimately made the right calls.
"You could understand for the officials it was right on the edge today, really tricky for them," he said. "The rain really didn't vary that much from two o'clock until the end of the grand prix.
"You can understand them being prudent, thinking about the safety of the driver at all times. The great thing is they did get the race underway in the end and we saw a fantastic motor race. Very good."