Drivers wanted earlier start but back use of Safety Car

2016 British Grand Prix

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Drivers mostly backed the decision to start the British Grand Prix behind the Safety Car but many also said the race should have gone green earlier.

“It was definitely the right decision to start the race behind the Safety Car,” said Jenson Button. “It was super wet and there was loads of standing water, but I think it should have been recalled two laps earlier.”

Visibility was a problem at the start
Max Verstappen agreed with Button. “Especially on the main straight there was quite a lot of water,” he said.

“But maybe it was a bit too long. I was ready to race after maybe two laps.”

However Nico Rosberg said drivers needed time to see where the large patches of water lay around the track.

“there was some big, big rivers in places,” said the Mercedes driver, “so it’s important to let us have a look at least where they are before getting going”.

His team mate Lewis Hamilton pointed out a standing start had been used when the track was wet eight years ago.

“We could have started on the grid – but for sure there were patches all over the place and it would have been tricky – but that’s what motor racing’s about.”

“But then we did stay for sure out far too long. It was pretty much intermediates by the time we let us go.”

“It would have been fun. It was easily just as wet, there was more water on the track when we started in 2008 when we started from the grid, that’s why I say that.”

2016 British Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    21 comments on “Drivers wanted earlier start but back use of Safety Car”

    1. Imo the problem isn’t SC starts but the SC staying out on the track for too long after the start.

      1. With so much cars sliding all over the course, I think that it wasn’t still safe. Luckily the huge runoff made things safer for the sailing cars.

    2. A lot of times the SC start has valid arguments, but most of the times (if not all), they stretch it too far. It certainly wasn’t the first time that the track was ready for inters when the SC decided to go in and release the field at full speed. Today it was right away. 10 cars followed Bernd and his Mercedes to the pitlane.

      It even affects safety in the pitlane. Today we were lucky we didn’t suffer any incident there. They were all bunched up together in the pitlane, cars coming in, others going out, there was a Force India mechanic that had to jump out of the way. It was a miracle that there weren’t any unsafe release penalties.

      1. It’s not a miracle there weren’t any penalties, it was dereliction of duty by Whiting et al. As usual, he only pays lip service to safety — when obvious, downright dangerous antics are happening, he ignores them until someone gets killed.

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      10th July 2016, 18:04

      Makes me wonder what the point of the wet tires is if they use them to cruise behind the safety car, then switch to inters.

      Well, staying out in Monaco worked for Hamilton.

      By today’s standards, the 2008 race would have been entirely behind the safety car.

    4. My favourite F1 lap, was the opening wet Donington lap by Ayrton Senna.

      SC starts rob us of performances like that. Who knows what would happen if on opening lap Lewis would mess up his start and say Verstappen gained 4-5s lead. Race would be entierly different…

      Or if faster Lewis was stuck behind slower Rosberg.. Or Mercedes guys crash and Red Bulls fight for the win…

      Many many many things, very good for the show could have happend… But did not, decided by FIA. It is the one thing track operators can influence. Then why not do the best thing for the show?

      1. Perhaps 20 years from now fans will have forgotten all about Ayrton’s opening lap at Donnington, and instead reminisce about the awesome opening laps of the 2016 British Grand Prix where Lewis dominated from the front behind the safety car.

        1. Jonathan Parkin
          11th July 2016, 10:31

          The SC start does have merit however this was Bernd Maylander’s tenth SC start since he took over the job in 2000. Discarding his first – which was completely ridiculous, Jean Alesi went onto DRY tyres on Lap 4 – all his subsequent ones were in the parc ferme conditions era when there are limited things that teams could do with the cars hence nearly all of the cars would be on a mixture of dry/wet settings. In the old days we had a 15 minute acclimisation practice so the teams could get used to the conditions and this in my opinion is why we have so many SC starts. In this case however there is nothing you can do about rain falling 15 mins before the start, just like at Spa in 97

    5. Personally I think SC start if only there will be visual problem for the drivers, not because the track is wet (and in that condition it’s probably better to delay the start anyway). To not aquaplaning while racing is the wet tires and drivers job. Turn 1 also have lot of run-off area, so risk from cars tangling on the start is also minimized. F1 survived racing in worse condition before, why we need SC start now?

      1. Because we have Pirelli tyres?

    6. spafrancorchamps
      10th July 2016, 21:41

      I saw a MotoGP race two weeks ago at Assen. It was soaking wet at one point. Much more wet than the track was today. But they kept driving for many laps, until the point where it just became too dangerous for the drivers. Also, in MotoGP, we would just have seen a grid start with track conditions which we saw today. We’re talking about motorcycles versus highly protected cars!!! To hell with this “safety” stuff. It has become ridiculous.

    7. Ridiculous, what next!. The whole race behind the safety car?.. and what about the laps counting for the race. They were not racing until the SC left… A few extra laps and Verstappen would have passed Rosberg naturally.
      F1 is about speed, danger and skill (or it used to be). I have been watching F1 since I was 15 and never missed a race..Now at the end of the GP I wonder why I wasted 2 hours of my life..
      Seems like they doing everything to kill this sport.
      Totally annoyed!

    8. They should rename the Wet tire to Follow The Safety Car tire.

    9. Wet races need to be looked at again. No-one wants to put drivers at extra risk but safety car starts are not racing. When drivers follow each other around and are not allowed to overtake, by definition, they are not racing.

      Some ideas to consider.

      1. When you have a wet track but not much rain falling, run four or five formation laps (and reduce the lap total by 4 or 5). That way drivers get to see the conditions and clear some standing water. Then stop the cars on the grid for a standing start.

      2. Use technology to overcome the reduction in visibility caused by spray. GPS technology could alert drivers to track limits, braking points and other drivers in a number of different ways.

      3. Cover the grid area of the track when it starts raining – the way cricket matches cover the crease and tennis matches cover the court with tarpaulin. Appreciate this is not always possible and won’t eliminate all water, but would keep the start area relatively dry. There are also a number of other ways many tracks could implement better drainage in the start area.

      Me and my son thoroughly enjoyed watching the race from the (covered) Abbey stand this weekend. The drama of the way drivers like Perez, Alonso and many others fought the slippery conditions was not captured on TV – it was truly a spectacle to behold live.

      However, we paid a lot for seats in this stand so we could see the drama of the start. But there was none. F1 needs to have another look at the way it handles rain – it ain’t going away…

    10. Vettel felt the decision to start behind the safety car and for the SC to stay out as long as it did was because there is no confidence in the wet tires. That would explain why the SC stayed out until it was dry enough for the intermediate tires. I guess this is a case of the FIA protecting their partner and not wanting us to know they produced a poor wet tire.

      1. That’s what I think too: Pirelli can’t test as they see fit, so they produce underperforming wet tyres and we get automatic SC starts because the FIA don’t trust them.

    11. Start behind SC isn’t very bad thing, but some changes are needed.

      Current F1 drivers don’t have enough time and opportunities to warmup, inspect track conditions, especially if it pours heavily minutes before start. That’s why Charlie isn’t keen to run normal start procedure.

      My idea is that laps behind SC in the start shouldn’t be counted as official race laps. Same is for race time.
      I think it would be great if drivers go back to form the grid again when SC leaves the track into pitlane.
      In that way, we could see proper wet start, because drivers would have some knowledge about the current conditions. And yes, no harm to full race distance.

      1. One problem @bullseyelt would be with fuel. Would the cars refuel between the SC laps and standing start?

        1. Yes, refuelling is a problem. So in that way maybe it’s better to count SC laps as official distance than to see team personnel again pilling on the grid with their unconvenient equipment. Anyway, hoping that top heads of F1 will somehow fix that annoying wet start behind SC problem.

    12. Ahh, if Senna were alive…
      He wouldn’t have hidden his outburst after this.

      F1 castration in full action.

    13. basically race control decides when the safety car comes in on the advice of the safety car driver , a highly experienced and successful racing driver … would it be better to just look at the TV pictures ?
      and following the Bianchi crash and forthcoming court case would anyone be surprised if the FIA have given instructions for caution under the circumstances ?
      and the problem is the wet tyres according to vettel ? the safety car isn’t on those tyres , the driver gives his best judgement ….nor would taking the advice of the leading car driver work …. he would have the best circumstances
      of course bernie owns the TV rights , that doesn’t help , he wants an on time start !

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