Home > News > New safety car rules for 2009

New safety car rules for 2009

January 29th, 2009

Nick Heidfeld follows the safety carFIA Formula One Race Director, Charlie Whiting has confirmed the safety car rules will change in 2009.  Last year the pit lane was closed at the start of any safety car period.  This was intended to remove the incentive for a driver to speed back to the pits in dangerous conditions.

But since the rule was introduced in 2007 a number of drivers have suffered penalties by having to pit while the pit lane entrance was closed as they had run out of fuel.  Under the new rules, the pit lane entrance will remain open and all the car’s standard Engine Control Unit (ECU), built by McLaren Electronic Systems, will calculate a minimum safe time for the driver to get back to the pits.

Whiting said:

The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we’ve gone back to the 2006 regulations. The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits. When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a “safety car” mode on their ECUs. As soon as that message gets to the car, it’ll know where it is on the circuit, and it’ll calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits. The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard.

It’s not clear what information will be displayed on the dashboard.  Will it be a maximum speed or will it be some kind of count-down timer?

Whatever it is this is a welcome change in the rules.  A number of drivers have had promising races wrecked by the old rule through no real fault of their own and while random events will always be an important factor in F1 racing the closure of the pit lane always seemed a rather obtuse way of enforcing safe driving.

Image: ph-stop

Categories: News Tags:
  1. John
    April 19th, 2009 at 20:30 | #1

    While I completely understand the need for safety car periods in races from time to time, I cannot see the logic or sporting spirit of such laps counting as racing laps. Why do they count?

  2. Andrew Hill
    April 20th, 2009 at 05:53 | #2

    I’m not 100% sure, but I wonder if this is a hang-over from the days when there was no refueling of cars during races? When in-race refueling is banned from 2010, I would imagine that this will once again be relevant?

  3. April 20th, 2009 at 13:52 | #3

    Good question! According to the regulations, the safety car is deployed “if competitors or officials are in immediate physical danger but the circumstances are not such as to necessitate suspending the race.” So the race director expects the hazard to be cleared within a few laps and just needs to slow the cars down. The cars are still racing but under certain restrictions.

    This is usually bad news for the race leader and while laps under the safety car might not be too interesting to watch they can provide exciting restarts and changes in race strategy.

    Andrew, interesting idea about refueling. With cars unable to refuel, that could definitely be a problem in races with multiple safety car periods.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.