As the rain intensified in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, the circuit quickly became waterlogged and caused a series of incidents – race leader Nick Cassidy throwing his Envision machine into the wall, where he was followed by Lucas di Grassi and Stoffel. Vandoorne.
Meanwhile, Bird had been caught by a Pascal Wehrlein stuck on the exit of the corner, but managed to get going again.
The incidents had promoted a wily Evans to third place, behind brief race leader Robin Frijns and Edoardo Mortara, but as the FIA determined the race would not resume, results were counted from the end of 29th. lap, relegating Evans to 11th while Bird placed ninth.
However, both drivers felt conditions should have had a chance to improve – which they duly did when the rain stopped after the red flag – and Evans felt race control could have offered some exploratory laps behind the safety car before resuming the procedure.
“I don’t understand the call – why red flag it and not get back to racing?” Evans told Autosport.
“There were seven minutes of racing plus one lap left, so there was still a lot of racing to do. The conditions were only going to improve as the rain had stopped.
“So firstly, I think it was completely the wrong decision – just having the safety car for a few laps, and sort of spotting the situation in the conditions.
“So we wouldn’t be in that position where the guys who shunted and got out of the race have now been reinstated.
“I understand this rule has been around for a long time, but it just seems wrong. In qualifying, if you cause a red flag, you lose your lap; I just think there are a few things I’m thinking about today, that I totally disagree with it and I just don’t think it’s a good overview of the sport.”
Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 5, Nyck de Vries, Mercedes-Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport footage
Bird agreed with Evans’ assessment and was arguably more expansive in his criticism of the decision not to return to racing.
He estimated that the circuit had completely dried up less than half an hour after the race was stopped and felt that fans attending the race in New York could have received a “proper conclusion” to the race.
“First of all look, we see it’s dry. The track is dry,” Bird said.
“We could have stopped for half an hour, cleared the carnage, got out under the safety car and finished the race for the fans, for everyone, to have a proper conclusion.
“Guys first second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, I think all crashed. Still, it’s all the guys in the points.
“If you crash in qualifying and cause a red flag, you’re wasting your lap time. I understand that rule exists. But I’m really struggling with it today.
“Obviously I’m the unlucky one. So of course I’m going to be a bit annoyed by that. But I just don’t. [understand it], especially when there are nine laps to go. It’s a big part of the race, there is almost a quarter of the race left.
“I just don’t think it was handled perhaps the best today. It’s about as strong as I can tell without getting in trouble.”