Safety Car, Albert Park, 2022

Stewards urge new Safety Car guidance to avoid “unfortunate incident” after near-miss

2022 Australian Grand Prix

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The FIA stewards have recommended drivers be given additional guidance on how to avoid incidents during Safety Car periods following a near-miss in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

Mick Schumacher nearly ran into Yuki Tsunoda during a Safety Car period as the AlphaTauri braked to avoid his team mate ahead. The other AlphaTauri was also slowing in reaction to a car ahead.

The stewards investigated all three drivers and concluded none of them were at fault. However they recommended that new guidance be given at future races to avoid a collision.

“Drivers were in line on the main straight behind the Safety Car with lights on,” they explained. “Cars were accelerating and decelerating to keep tyre and brake temperatures up in anticipation of the restart.

“[Gasly] slowed in reaction to the car in front, [Tsunoda] also slowed in reaction. [Schumacher] was closer to Tsunoda as he slowed, while trying to maintain the ten car length maximum separation specified in the regulations, and had to move left and overtake Tsunoda while braking to avoid colliding with him.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“The stewards find no driver guilty of breaching the regulation, however, it is clear that the speed and braking capabilities of F1 cars, especially while trying to maintain required temperatures in tyres and brakes, are in tension with the 10 car length separation behind the Safety Car traditionally specified in the regulations.

“This needs to be a point of emphasis in future driver briefings, to ensure the drivers collectively agree on how best to address this challenge before an unfortunate incident occurs.”

Collisions have happened during Safety Car periods previously. At the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix 12 drivers were given formal warnings after a crash at a restart put four cars out of the race. Following the incident the Grand Prix Drivers Association wrote to FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi requesting changes to the restart procedure.

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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 “Stewards urge new Safety Car guidance to avoid “unfortunate incident” after near-miss”

  1. Is the single-file requirement for after the Safety Car lights have turned off or for the entire time the SC is deployed?

    1. Coventry Climax
      10th April 2022, 14:18

      Does it matter?
      The only way to avoid these things is technically, to apply a VSC by default, and require all cars to be equipped with Cars Around Awareness systems that maintain those exact delta’s. And then obviously add ABS, Airbags, Lane Assist, Auto-parking, Auto Handbrake as well as HiFi Media Player Systems with 32″ screens ofcourse, because there’s otherwise not a lot to do anymore for the drivers during the two hour ‘race’.

      Isn’t this also a matter of talent and experience? The ability to judge situations?
      How far do we go in controlling everything and making the drivers just rather pointless passengers?
      Will all these new rules, regulations and instructions avoid having the less bright drivers in the cars?
      Or should they maybe have a thorough look at the ladder and conditions to get into F1?

      Look at the Stroll -Latifi incident during qualifying. Latifi is well on his way to beat every record set by Maldonado, with Stroll certainly not being the highlight of the century too. What rules would have avoided that?

      1. Latiffi accident was clearly Stroll doing he never looks in his mirrors.

      2. Ditto. Situation awareness, and comes with experience. Of course there are drivers that comes with a lot of maturity since the beginning, but those are just a few.
        BTW, Miki reflexes were great. LOL.
        And agree on Latifi screw ups. I comment exactly the same on FB. I believe there were 2 drivers who are below F1 standards: Latifi and Mazepin (the latest, we already got rid LOL)

  2. Masi decided before the day was even over after the Tuscan GP that everything was safe and nothing needed changing. Todays incident was proof that it needed looking into, not instantly dismissing.

    Good to see the stewards recognising these incidents for what they are – the rules not keeping up with the cars performance requirements – give the drivers a chance.

    1. And let’s not forget that the cars are designed and operated in such a way as to take advantage of the extreme edge of any regulations.
      Everything is related to, and reliant on, everything else.
      Change the rules, and the target changes with them. There’d still be no safety margin.
      If they increase the gap to 20 car lengths, they’ll just get double the run up and speed difference.

      Masi was still right. There’s nothing wrong with the rules – it’s all in the teams’ and drivers’ approach.

      Of course – the slower the cars go, the less they need to do such temperature management. Can’t argue with basic physics.

      1. Have designated sections of the track where the 10-car length rule doesn’t apply to allow for tyre/brake temp, have a minimum gap on straights, other ideas that people far smarter and more involved than me can come up with. To dismiss it offhand within several hours of that event was never the right decision.

        I’m sure there are positives and negatives to any changes around this, but to completely shut it down immediately was awful.

  3. I am 100% sure that if MSC didn’t have catlike reflexes at that time and actually piled into the back of Yuki, the entire community here would destroy him for being out of his depth/being only a famous name etc and no one would talk about the weird erratic behaviour of cars under SC conditions that has been going on for so long.

    On the other hand, it’s nice to see a leading driver (LEC) who does conventional restarts instead of holding the field right up to the control line. While technically allowed, those kinds of restarts (especially where you have a long run up to the line) are where messes like Mugello can happen more often. I still fear that Baku has something like that in store for the future. Why we can’t go back to the old Safety Car line rule is beyond me.

    1. Coventry Climax
      10th April 2022, 13:49

      I’m sure that if MSC had been a better driver, this would not have happened at all.
      Interpret ‘better’ the way you like; by talent, by experience or both.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        10th April 2022, 13:58

        Although we should point out Jenson Button did almost the same thing in Italy in 2000. The difference being in that case he scraped the guardrail and damaged his suspension

      2. The onuse seems to be all on the drivers, when the SC would do better to drive faster, there by helping the drivers behind them to keep their temps up.

    2. The incident in mugello happened because the safety car was called in very late in the lap. This meant the drivers didn’t have enough time to bunch up and also meant that bottas who was leading left it right up to start finish line before accelerating. This combination meant that the drivers near the back accelerated thinking the race had restarted but not realising that the gaps had appeared due to the field not having time to bunch up. The drivers were annoyed because Masi left it too late to bring in the safety car. We now know Masi did this for the sake of entertainment.

      1. The Dolphins
        11th April 2022, 1:19

        Masi couldn’t run a bath which is why he’s out of a job.

  4. Coming soon: FIA Stewards recommend guidance for drivers on how to avoid walls and gravel and prevent Safety Cars in the first place…

  5. for what it’s worth, would situations like this be more naturally controlled if all the restarts happened at the start / finish line? I’m wondering if part of the problem is that nobody knows when the lead driver will take off, so everyone is on edge. If they know when the restart will happen, will that reduce some of the warm up anxiety that happens?

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