FIA responds to F1 Safety Car criticism

The Formula 1 Safety Car

The FIA has made a public statement reinforcing the primary objective of the Formula 1 Safety Car.

It comes in response to criticisms of the slow pace set by the Safety Car at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, after which 2021 world champion Max Verstappen described it as “like a turtle”.

The FIA has now come out swinging, reiterating that car performance is secondary to ensuring safety during any such period.

“In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is, of course, not outright speed, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and officials,” read the FIA’s statement.

“The Safety Car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to ‘bunch up’ the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track.

“The speed of the safety car is therefore generally dictated by race control, and not limited by the capabilities of the safety cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world’s top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-driver.

“The impact of the speed of the safety car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration, as the impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and the circuit.”

Separate to the speed issue, stewards did call for Safety Car protocols to be reviewed following a near-miss between Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda at the AGP.

Round 4 of the 2022 world championship, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, takes place at Imola across April 22-24.

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