Safety car procedures revamped
|By Jonathan Noble
||Thursday, July 8th 2010, 15:10 GMT
The FIA will introduce new safety car procedures from the British Grand Prix on Sunday in a bid to prevent a repeat of the controversy in Valencia a fortnight ago, AUTOSPORT has learned.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting met with the sporting directors of the teams at Silverstone on Wednesday to discuss clearing up the safety car regulations after the issues that were brought up at the European Grand Prix.
Several ideas were discussed - including closing the pitlane completely during safety car spells - but AUTOSPORT understands that agreement has been reached simply to slow the F1 cars down much more than before under the safety car.
Instead of operating to a 'delta' time of 120% of a regular F1 lap before the cars form up behind the safety car, as under the old regulations, drivers will instead be forced to slow down to the actual estimated speed of the safety car itself.
The idea of slowing cars this much will be to ensure there is no possibility of a driver overtaking the safety car – as Lewis Hamilton did on the run out of the first corner at Valencia.
Drivers are due to conduct experiments with the new delta time after free practice at Silverstone on Friday and Saturday, with the new delta time being used for the first time in the race on Sunday unless any unforeseen major problems after thrown up beforehand.
The slower delta time will prevent drivers getting a benefit by being ahead of the safety car on road.
The FIA has also reacted to the problems drivers had of breaking the delta time in Valencia, after only finding out about the safety car towards the end of the lap, by making it clear that they will be exempt from the new safety car speed limit for the final 200 metres of the lap.
Williams driver Rubens Barrichello, who was penalised in Valencia, said it was hard for drivers to react immediately to the lights telling them to slow down.
"You are coming flat out at maybe 285km/h and the lights on the steering wheel only appear.. I could only see by the time that I was entering the pitlane," he said. "You have the engineer talking to you.
"It's very hard to take it. I just think that the rule can go your way one day and another day it won't. They are there for the safety so we need to for the best reasonable way of safety."