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Formula 1’s teams are set to gather with sporting governing body the FIA to discuss Safety Car regulations ahead of the British Grand Prix. The meeting will follow mixed opinions in Valencia, where no less than nine drivers were penalised for driving too quickly under Safety Car conditions.
Since last season, drivers have been required to follow a delta timer – located on the car’s steering wheel – at the moment the Safety Car is deployed; competitors are shown a countdown which varies depending on their on-track location and, to prevent quick speeds and possible danger situations, must not return to the second Safety Car line before the clock reaches zero.
However, nine drivers received 5-second post-race penalties on Sunday after returning to the line too soon. The issue is something Force India F1 Team Manager Andy Stevenson believes can be seen as questionable and therefore must be fine-tuned.
“I think what the FIA certainly had to do was highlight the fact that rule had been broken,” he said in Force India’s European Grand Prix podcast. “It was always going to be very difficult because different drivers had broken the same rule to different extents just depending on, basically, the luck of the draw on where they were on the circuit at the time that the Safety Car was deployed.
“It, to me, is a pretty clear rule but it’s quite a difficult rule for the drivers and their engineers to execute in the short amount of time that they can sometimes have to do this, depending on where they are. For instance, if you’re 200 metres from Safety Car line two, you’ve literally got one or two seconds to get everything sorted to get the delta times right, so it makes it quite tricky.
“I think one of the other issues that the stewards had is that everybody basically did the same thing which again highlights that, in that situation – when the race is going, everyone’s racing hard and they suddenly deploy the Safety Car – it’s very difficult for them all to get within this delta time.
“I think it’s something we need to address and I do believe that the FIA are going to have a meeting with us all before the next event to see how we can improve it.
“There is nothing to gain so there’s no reason to go fast around the track and the idea is to make it safe because, in a Safety Car situation, you’re not sure what’s just around the next corner and we’ve got to make sure that the track’s safe for marshals and for ambulance crews alike.
“So it is a good rule, and it’s one all the teams should stick to, but in the heat of competition I think it is quite to implement it as fast as we would like and we need to address this.”
Also on Tuesday: Michael advises Safety Car rule ‘review’
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