Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, Hockenheimring, 2018

Sainz wants simpler Safety Car rules after penalty

2018 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr suggested simplifying the rules around letting lapped drivers rejoin the lead lap during Safety Car periods after being penalised in the German Grand Prix.

The Renault driver received a 10-second penalty for overtaking Marcus Ericsson during a Safety Car period. Sainz said he was confused by the procedure under which lapped drivers are allowed to unlap themselves at the end of Safety Car periods.

“This was a very particular incident and a very strange situation. Just after my pit stop for inters I got lapped and I was one lap down. As soon as the Safety Car gave us the notice to unlap ourselves I was a little bit leaped into unknown, not knowing really well who was lapped, who had to unlap themselves and who didn’t.

“At that point I saw pretty much most of the cars going really slowly, even if you were allowed to unlap yourselves, so I just decided to push, to rejoin the field at the back of the train as soon as possible. I think some drivers got the notice a bit later than me and they were simply not pushing, they had the recharge mode on.

“Particularly with the Sauber, I thought he had a problem on the car or he didn’t want to get to the back of the field because he wasn’t even pushing, so I decided to clear him, just as a personal decision. I was told to give the position back to him, I gave the position back to him but I don’t know if intentionally or not he braked again and he let me by again.

“So a big mess and a bit difficult to understand at that point what is happening, as you can all imagine now because the story is not very easy to tell.”

Sainz suggested it would be simpler for lapped drivers to drop to the rear of the field instead of overtaking the entire pack and regaining a lap.

“[I’m] always wondering if it is not easier to drop back, get ourselves at the back of queue and recover the lap down instead of having to do a full lap of pushing behind the Safety Car, everyone pushing flat out to try and unlap themselves, if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s just easier to drop back, go to the end of the queue and recover the lap that you’ve just lost.”

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Keith Collantine
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17 comments on “Sainz wants simpler Safety Car rules after penalty”

  1. always wondering if it is not easier to drop back

    I’m a strong believer that this would be better: such a procedure in itself is faster; safer (slowing down rather than speeding up); and, end SC period faster (SC can come in that same lap).

    Or just leave ‘train’ as is. Why would you give lead lap drivers 2 benefits? 1) closing gap with leader, 2) getting rid of the cars in between.

    1. Such a procedure will benefit the unlapped cars with slightly more fuel and better tyre wear.

      I am a big supporter for leaving the train as it is, as you call it, because imho, removing back markers is unfair.
      A safety car is for safety and not for spicing up the show. The leader already has a disadvantage with a safety car and removing back markers will add to that disadvantage, by removing the obstacles the pursuers should have to pass without a safety car anyway.

    2. Why would you give lead lap drivers 2 benefits? 1) closing gap with leader, 2) getting rid of the cars in between.

      Because it ruins the race. When you have lapped cars there you are not going to get the lead cars fighting for positions. The leader can safely just run away while all the people behind him need to pass the slow lapped cars. Which slows down and separates everybody. With the lapped cars moved away the lead cars can and have to race and fight for positions.

      The lead drivers would benefit a lot more if the lapped cars were left in the train. On some tracks this alone can give the leader something like a 5s lead. When the lapped cars are moved out of the way the leader has only track position advantage over the 2nd place driver.

      It is not perfect system because it takes time to get move the lapped cars but it is miles better than leave them there and ruin the race. And the lapped cars ruin their own race as well. They need to let everybody pass which slows them down massively.

      1. Yes but, if that driver in the lead is 8 seconds ahead of the car behind him, he has EARNED that buffer… it’s not his fault someone else crashed to bring out the SC. It’s not his fault current regulations make it impossible to catch back up, he played within the rules…

        This is either racing or bumper cars, it cannot be both, we cannot punish racers for dominating their field, in the name of creating a “better race”

      2. It’s kinda unfair to the leader though, the leader has already passed the lapped cars, when they get to unlap themselfs the leader has to do it again.

        I realize that’s a minor problem, but still worth consideration imho.

  2. I agree it would be easier but from a sporting perspective I don’t think it’s the right way to go about it. Every car is required to run the full race distance (or complete the final lap they’re on after the leader passes the chequered flag) – this would mean that lapped cars effectively get given a lap for free. They may show as having completed the race distance when actually they haven’t. That’s one less lap of fuel, of tyre wear, of engine mileage. It may seem trivial but it hands those cars and drivers an advantage over the cars which weren’t lapped.

    If F1 is truly a sport than I don’t feel comfortable saying “ok technically you didn’t cover the full race distance but we’ll just say that you did”

    1. Isen’t this already what happens now though?
      Since the race ends when the leader finishes, the lapped cars don’t run a extra lap to get the full distance.

      1. @omega Yes that’s what happens, but when you finish a lap down you’re shown as a lap down. What Sainz is suggesting is that cars which are a lap behind the leaders drop backwards behind the field and then have the lost lap added back to them – effectively unlapping themselves without doing the extra lap. So you could be on lap 50 but only have completed 48 tours of the circuit. Because you never actually had to drive lap 49.

        1. I see, I personally don’t really see that as a problem since F1 isen’t really an endurce compitition anyway and the cars will still drive the same physical distance, I prefer any solution that gets the race back into action quicker.

          1. @omega It becomes an issue if say the 9th place finisher completes 49 physical laps vs. the 10th who had to complete 50.

          2. @dragon86 I don’t understand, surely if the 9th placed car is lapped then so is the 10th placed car.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    27th July 2018, 9:30

    The sauber driver wasn’t even pushing? Well you are not meant to go for it during the safety car!…

  4. The current system works, it just needs better communication. It would be better if cars had a blue light on the back of their car when they had been lapped, so drivers could visually what was going on.

  5. if there was a way to simplify ” you can’t overtake under the safety car”

  6. This is done primarily for the benefit of the leading drivers, so they don’t have to pass those pesky slow cars – and its perceived to be slowing down the close of the safety car.


    Don’t let them un-lap themselves, and don’t let them (as some suggest) just drop to the back. Both are as artificial as the blue flag and spoil racing. These drivers are meant to be the best – let them prove it without interference if artificially resetting the field on Safety car and doing away with the blue flag.

    Just my opinion of course.

    1. @ahxshades, the use of blue flags to signal that a driver should yield has been around for decades and pre-dates the advent of Formula 1 – the pre-WW2 Grand Prix championship had blue flag regulations in the 1930s (there are contemporary reports of Hermann Muller being given multiple blue flags in the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix as an instruction to get out of the way of Hermann Lang as Lang was trying to lap Muller), and there are records of drivers being given blue flags in Formula 1 races as far back as the 1950s. Blue flags were, evidently, considered quite acceptable back then for the likes of Fangio or Ascari…

      There have, of course, also been instances of drivers admitting that they purposefully ignored blue flags because they were being put under pressure to deliberately block another driver, or had a malicious intent towards other drivers and would deliberately obstruct them when being lapped.

  7. Sainz suggested it would be simpler for lapped drivers to drop to the rear of the field instead of overtaking the entire pack and regaining a lap.

    Sainz is absolutely right. The present rules are really annoying – We talk about it everytime there is a safety car. Why do we have to wait a few laps extra for the Unlapping of backmarkers, before the race can restart? It is totally unnecessary and really annoying to wait for. I don’t care if the lapped cars stay where they are or they drop to the back and get the missing lap added artificially, but get the race restarted ASAP. If You are pedantic then You can argue that those cars drive a lap less, than the rest, but hey, the important points are awarded in the front end of the field. Lets concentrate our attention and the rules to cover what’s happening at the front end of the pack.

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