“Horrible” long Virtual Safety Car period left Leclerc feeling dizzy

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc said the long Virtual Safety Car period during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix left him feeling “dizzy”.

In brief

Leclerc: left feeling “very dizzy in the car” by laps behind VSC

Leclerc, who finished seventh, said the main challenge in Jeddah was “just staying on track” especially through the many Virtual Safety Car periods. “After the VSCs, with those hard tyres, it was very difficult for me. I really, really struggled,” he said.

At one stager the VSC was deployed continuously for four laps, considerably longer than a typical period. “The VSC of – I don’t know how many laps, for the debris – oh my god, this was horrible,” Leclerc described.

As drivers only receive short notice before a VSC period ends, they have to keep their tyres up to the ideal temperature throughout. “As a driver just to turn left, right, left, right, left, right for 10 minutes, I was feeling honestly very dizzy in the car,” said Leclerc. “To have this happen is not great but the pace was good.”

Gasly: Difficult race with limited green-flag running.

Pierre Gasly admitted he was concerned how little green-flag running there might be after two red flags in the first 16 laps were followed by a spate of further interruptions.

“At some point I started to think ‘Okay, we’re going to do like half of the race under VSC or full safety car if it keeps going like this’,” he said.

Gasly called the race a “pretty difficult one” given the frequent VSC periods and other disruptions, often due to debris. “I think in the end, they kept us all safe, which was not an easy one because we’ve seen what’s happened in Formula 2 and was pretty tricky but yeah overall, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a race.”

Prema take second consecutive Formula 2 teams’ title

Prema retained their F2 title
Prema have won the F2 teams’ title for the second year running, having also won last year when Mick Schumacher took the drivers’ championship. Prema’s points tally, 375.5, leaves them 140 clear of closest rivals Carlin on 235.5 points, with one round to go.

The drivers’ title can now only be won by one of their racers, Oscar Piastri and Robert Shwartzman. Guanyu Zhou and others dropped out of contention over the Jeddah race weekend.

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Comment of the day

There’s been plenty of controversy over time penalties issued, this year and whether they sufficiently punish a frontrunning driver. From Lewis Hamilton’s Silverstone penalty that saw him go on to win the race, despite being found at fault for his crash with Verstappen to the Red Bull driver’s own post-race penalty in Jeddah, which saw no change to the results, Steven Robertson asks if there could be a fairer way to ensure penalties have the same effect on all drivers.

Time penalties don’t mean much when the front runners are so far ahead, Verstappen ended up with 15 seconds of penalties and still finished second.

If Bottas got 15 seconds of penalties he’d have dropped from third to seventh. What sort of penalty system is this? Dropping positions instead would be more of a deterrent.
@Emu55

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 20 comments on ““Horrible” long Virtual Safety Car period left Leclerc feeling dizzy”

    1. COTD. That is a lot better than just time penalties. Why hasn’t the FIA thought about this yet? But I think this race is Verstappen and Hamilton’s final warning before Abu Dhabi. I will not be surprised if the stewards are more stern with their judgements next week and penalties if needed. The stewards had to intervene today, and Masi was already threatening Red Bull to pass the black market deal to the stewards during the red flag period.

      PS: When did F1 become a black market? I want to negotitate the price of some F1 merchandise.

      1. Bobson Dugnutt
        6th December 2021, 6:41

        So a penalty for identical infrigement (say drop 1 position for corner cutting) could be a net 2 second loss or half a lap? How does that play with the pit stops?
        What if you happen to be last at that moment?

        I don’t see how it’s better or fairer than time penalties

      2. Regarding the COTD… don’t see any issues that matter with this system. It applies to everyone, it’s up to the driver too to overcome the penalty. If HAM/VER can negate such penalty… good for them, BOT, PER and the rest should do better. The problem in my opinion is with the penalty received given the consequences too. HAM’s mistake in Silverstone meant a DNF and many points lost for VER, an agressive overtaking maneouver on the limit is punished with almost the same penalty (5sec). Don’t see any balance here.

      3. I’m not sure it would work because the scale of the punishment would be different in every scenario. A 1-place drop if you’re 30 seconds ahead of the next car is so much more impactful on your race than if the next car is a second behind you, and that inconsistency is worse than a time based system. Max didn’t drop places, but it also ended any chance of winning the race, which was his only real objective.

    2. Maybe Mazepin was dizzy when he drove at full speed into the car ahead of him.

    3. Having a range of arbitrary penalties that may or may not be applied or be an effective punishment are perfect for F1’s aims of being a leading entertainment product. It’s WWE with wheels folks.

      1. Of course, not everyone finds that sort of thing entertaining

      2. Is this a future trend, courting controversy over consistency. Or is the bias just one – sided.
        In Brazil the drivers asked for clarification over the driving standard, Masi said everything was fine. This last race, so many things were done wrong by a single driver from a single team, and race director is pleading with the team to accept some easy was out.
        The rules don’t exist any more when it comes to Redbull.

        1. VER got some penalties, no?! He was told to let HAM ahead, received 10sec penalty. What did you expect them to do, black flag him?

          But yes, the situation is complicated indeed and don’t see at the moment how FIA can fix the agressive racing without having to come up with a lot more, very strict rules, applied to the entire field no matter the place or the situation(s) of the driver(s) in the WDC… which might kill the racing completely.

    4. COTD: I don’t really have a problem with the time penalties, since it gives the penalised driver a “sporting chance” to overcome the penalty and neutralise its effect, rather than it being an immediately race-ruining decision. That’s what Hamilton did at Silverstone, of course, and effectively Verstappen had “pre-neutralised” his own penalty by putting in the hard yards earlier in the race to pull so far ahead of third place. Mercedes could have made the penalty much more meaningful if Bottas hadn’t been stuck in the midfield as usual.

    5. That CGI clip is terrible. How are the tire marks faster/slower that the car itself? Very lazy editing

      1. Why show fake videos on this site?
        There is a reason I don’t ‘do’ FB and Instagram.

    6. RandomMallard (@)
      6th December 2021, 7:03

      What I think is clear is that F1 learned nothing from the Indycar race in Nashville earlier this year. We considered them a laughing stock after they spent a very long time under yellows because they were racing on a street track that was far too narrow.

      Who’s the laughing stock now…

      1. I must admit I was thinking of Indycar a lot this weekend, and their occasional penchant for bizarre and unsuitable street circuits, @randommallard. The fact that barely an overtake was made without debris flying everywhere is an indication that the circuit was not really suitable for F1 cars.

        It was obvious, for example, that anyone crashing at turn 22 would bring out the red flags due to the need for barrier repairs in such a high-traffic area. You can’t really have a low-speed incident at that corner and there is no run-off to speak of. (Obvious to me, anyway. I don’t know why several of the teams didn’t see it).

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          6th December 2021, 8:48

          @red-andy Agree with that latter point as well. The moment I saw Schumacher there my first thought was “that could be a red flag”. I’m surprised Mercedes didn’t think the same. That said, I’m not 100% sure a red flag was necessary (although I think some polystyrene did fly into Mick’s car, which suggested the barrier had been broken open), and of course it only led to more chaos on the restart.

    7. Another race ruined by Red Flags.

      And even the acceptable solution (VSC) was too long (poorly managed).

      1. @jff I share your views, especially on the VSC.

    8. COTD’s idea is good.

    9. I don’t mind the red flag rule. Its supposed to be a very rare occurrence. But these days they are using it like a safety car deployment. How many have we had in this last two years? 8? 10? That’s a lot…

      It’s not too different to a poorly timed safety car period. All of these interruptions create a sort of lottery in the field, its always been like this.

      I’m more concerned about this track. It needs to change, it’s dangerous for no reason at all, it funnels very quickly. It’s designed to have blind corners at that very quick last sector. I can’t believe they approved the design in the first place. Plus the first combo of corners is horrible.

    10. Fittipaldi:

      “Hey everyone thanks for all the messages. Enzo is awake/alert and resting at the hospital. He has a fracture in his right heel but thankfully things are much better than what we all expected. Thank you to the FIA, the team and all the medical staff here in Saudi Arabia”

      Really good news things are not worse than this for him. That was a bad shunt.

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