Drivers to test Virtual Safety Car changes on Friday

2014 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Revisions to F1’s planned Virtual Safety Car system will tested during Friday’s two practice sessions at Interlagos.

The test will include a simulation of two cars making a pit stop during the Virtual Safety Car period.

The Virtual Safety Car period will begin at the end of each session after the last car takes the chequered flag for the first time. Drivers will then have ten seconds to slow to reach the required ‘delta’ time.

Following that they must be above the minimum time at least once in each of the 21 marshalling sectors around the track, as well as at the start/finish line and Safety Car lines one and two.

Two cars will then be brought into the pits to simulate a pit stop taking place under Virtual Safety Car conditions. Once all the cars have crossed the start/finish line for a second time the Virtual Safety Car period will come to an end, which will be signified by the light boards around the track counting down from ten.

The system has been altered following its first test at the Circuit of the Americas, following which some drivers expressed concern they were having to look away from the road and at their steering wheel too much to ensure they were lapping at the correct speed.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Drivers to test Virtual Safety Car changes on Friday”

  1. I really agree with the virtual safety car in principle, but surely it would be simpler to have a set speed which they can limit their cars too, in the same way that the pit-lane speed limiter works. It would have to be incredibly slow to ensure they are slow enough in all situations, but that way they don’t have to have their eyes off the road for too long. If it’s only going to be implemented for a couple of corners of the lap at a time then tyres going cold due to a low speed won’t be too much of an issue.

    Seems much simpler than this delta time system – if the VSC board comes out, drivers slow down immediately and press the button, then press again at the end of the VSC zone.

    1. Agreed. Not only simpler, drivers would watch the road, not just the display.

    2. I agree, although I guess they couldn’t change the steering wheels for these early tests anyway.

      1. @george Well, if they only wanted to test the idea (and not the exact speed) then they could just use the pit lane speed limiter. Requires no modification to the cars at all. The exact speed could be refined later with an extra button added if needed.

    3. Simpler, but it would have its own issues (for example if it happens to encounter a driver in the fastest part of say Monza or Silverstone – imagine hard braking to meet the limit in short time and what happens to anyone behind that)

      1. @bascb Drivers still have to slow down with the current VSC idea. I’m not saying they have to slam on the brakes immediately (that would just be plain dangerous). I don’t have access to the data so I can’t say how long drivers should get before having to slow down, but I’m sure there must be a way. How about a countdown of (say) 5 seconds, after which all drivers must have engaged the speed limiter? (No idea how accurate this is, just the first thing that popped into my head).

        1. Or, coldfly’s comment below – start the zone just after a corner, so they’re already going slowly and no need to slam on the brakes.

          1. That would mean quite a lot of work redoing all the sectors @minnis, @coldfly, not sure that is viable to do.

            The difference between keeping to a set speed / time for a sector and pushing the pilane limiter kind of slowdown is that for the second one each driver would have to immediately slow down to 80 kmh (or 60kmh for Monaco and a few other tracks) instead of lifting off and getting to a slower speed more gently

  2. Setting a speed limit may cause some issues with cars catching other based on distances travelled, for instance a driver warming their tyres (weaving) could be caught by someone behind who is travelling in a straight line.

    I’m not sure how much of a problem this may be, however.

    1. Sorry, this was in reply to @minnis‘ comment.

      1. @beneverard
        I get what you’re saying and agree completely, but let’s be honest – the safety car by its very nature will give some drivers an advantage and others a disadvantage.
        Assuming the VSC is only for a couple of corners, it will also massively advantage someone who was just in front of the accident – If the system was used for Japan, Bianchi for example would actually have gained the most time as he would have just passed the VSC zone, thus would have a whole lap at full throttle while others would have to brake. Yet someone running a few corners behind Sutil would be massively disadvantaged by having to brake for the VSC.

        The whole concept of a safety car is massively unfair for some drivers, but it’s being done for the safety of the drivers which should be our primary concern.

        Also, is there a more fair solution? The only truly fair system I can think of is if the race is immediately red flagged, and the drivers resume the race at exactly the point on the track that they were before the red flag and going at exactly the same speed. Which, of course, is impossible! :P

  3. Isn’t there something too, to be said about not dummy’ing down the system too much? I mean, shouldn’t they have to exercise a degree of competency and skill on their own, managing their speed and position in that situation rather than being able to just “press a button” and go into no-skill mode?

  4. ColdFly F1 (@)
    6th November 2014, 22:41

    Still way too complex IMHO. The drivers will be checking their steering wheels/delta’s constantly rather than keeping their eyes on the circuit (which they should do as there is a safety concern on the circuit).

    I’d keep it simple like an automatic pit speed limiter; only for 1-2 sectors where the danger is.
    – The drivers are used to braking hard for the pit lane, same for the VSC sector.
    – Make sure a sector start just before a turn, then the cars have to brake anyway.
    – The cars behind know the car in front will brake for VSC and have to do the same themselves; thus the same skill as braking for any turn when following car.

    Seems easy with eyes on the road. And the best part keep the rest of circuit open for racing normally.

  5. The reasons why it is done this way are probably technical reasons. The cars simply are not designed to drive really slowly around the track and if we suddenly made a rule that drivers must slow down to pit limiter speeds then we could see many problems. Overheating, tires losing pressures. And if you insist on using pit limiter speeds the drivers would then use the shortest routes around the track. Every metre that you can shave off is free time gained to the car in front.

  6. I’d take the keys away from all the drivers, they obviously can’t be trusted…..

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