Safety Car and lapped cars

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    So today was the first time we’ve seen the new Safety Car rule in action, with lapped cars passing the safety car to get out of the way of cars on the lead lap.

    Brundle was critical of the rule because he thought ‘the drivers should just deal with it’ (or words to that effect), but my issue with the rule is something that was pretty obvious while the lapped runners made their way through the field: it was dangerous. The lead lap cars had clearly not been told on the radio that the rule was in effect and that cars were coming through and continued to weave while the lapped runners made their way through, with the lapped cars having to brake sharply on several occasions. I was wincing for the duration of the process.
    Do you guys think that there will be an incident caused by this new rule during the season, or do you think that it won’t be a problem as drivers get used to it? I imagine the drivers’ briefing next race will contain a strong explanation of how to behave when the rule is in effect.


    I don’t like it at the moment and agree with Brundle but we’ll see if it gets better.


    Well it’s not a new rule so the experienced drivers should know what the rule is about. The leaders should be told on the radio to not weave whilst lapped cars are unlapping themselves, simply as that really. There was never any incidents when the rule was around during 2007 to 2009. So if both the leaders and the lapped cars are sensible, then no incidents should happen and the rule should work.

    I think the rule needs to be there because watching the leaders fight lapped traffic instead of each other is frustrating.


    I don’t like it, but it’s the better of two evils.

    Front-runners should not be hindered in racing each other just because they’re fast enough to lap other cars. I can’t think of another way of preventing this.


    I like the rule itself but the execution needs some serious over-thinking….


    The trade-off isn’t worth it.

    We have rule which will extend the length of most safety car periods by a lap – in other words, reducing the amount of time spent racing by a lap.

    In exchange for that, on the infrequent occasions when there are lapped cars between the leaders they will be moved out of the way.

    Recent history shows that is unlikely to make much of a difference. It’s rare to see many passes being made from restarts in F1.

    The top drivers know how to arrange the restart to minimise their chance of losing the lead – as we saw today and many times last year.

    I understand why people want the rule, but I don’t think it’s worth it. I’d rather maximise the time spent racing.

    I think it’s a rule that’s better suited to series which race on shorter circuits, like ovals in IndyCar racing, rather than F1 tracks which tend to be on the long side (generally rather longer than is necessary).


    I seem to remember that the rule was introduced as a response to an incident in Melbourne 06 when Alonso was leading, and whoever was 2nd lost out massively because there were two backmarkers who couldn’t move as quickly as Alonso. I think it’s a necessary evil to prevent such instances.

    What doesn’t need to happen is to allow the lapped cars to catch up again. They should just be released to bunch the front runners up, and then the rest should be allowed to go.


    Perhaps there should be a little short-cut at the end of the main straight that loops back around to behind the starting line, which cars can only use when they are given permission to unlap themselves when the safety car is out. That way they would still complete the same number of laps as everyone else but they would catch the train of cars up immediately rather than having to go all the way around.

    They’d be covering less distance than everyone else, theoretically, but by the end of the race it would even out as lapped cars don’t carry on once they have cross the line with the chequered flag out.

    A bit of a silly idea, I know, but how about it?


    Why can’t the lapped cars just get passed by everyone behind them and then line up in order, and then the timing screens get changed accordingly?

    James Brickles

    @estesark – I know Bernie Ecclestone will like the shortcut idea ;)


    @brickles How dare you associate my idea with Bernie’s… haha. It’s not really the same thing. Though I know that if my idea ever was implemented, it would only be a matter of time before someone at the FIA thought “let’s let cars use it X times per race” or something stupid like that.

    Alianora La Canta

    This idea didn’t work last time. Quite why the FIA think it will work now is a mystery.


    It makes much more sense to me to have the lapped cars drop back rather than overtake the safety car and race round to get back into position.


    +1 to Mathers’ suggestion. Yes, I know it’ll mean they’ve gone a lap less distance, and it might give an incentive for fast cars who are out-of-position (spun, etc.,) to try to get lapped as quickly as possible such that they’re less far behind, but I suspect that this isn’t a major worry.

    I seem to remember watching an oval race (can’t remember whether it was NASCAR or Indycar) where there was a caution, and because the cars were racing 3- or 4- wide, they didn’t know the order they were supposed to line up in. Race control simply read out the correct order, and the grid formed correctly in less than a lap. I thought at the time it worked really well, and why couldn’t it happen in F1? (On another point, I am of the opinion that “move behind car X” should be valid as a during-race penalty…)


    Its a rule/regulation that I feel is right for everyone, F1 is a sport but really should be dubbed ‘F1 Sport Entertainment’ which means there should be a fair fight with the main drivers, however it was nasty to see the swerving of the cars narrowly missing the lapped cars, it is in the regulations that lapped cars are only allowed to overtake the safety car after 2 laps have been completed, after that time NO car is allowed to weave/warm up tyres untill authority has been given by race controll, therefore many cars should have had penalties applied, if there is a rule in the regulations everyone should stick to it!

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