Luca di Montezemolo is right: F1’s safety car rules are humiliating for the sport

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Luca di Montezemolo (left, with Felipe Massa) is unhappy with the Safety Car rules
Luca di Montezemolo (left, with Felipe Massa) is unhappy with the Safety Car rules

Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo was not impressed by the role the safety car had to play in Singapore:

When we race on tracks where staging a circus or something else would be better, anything can happen, because the spectacle is supplied by the Safety Car. This is humiliating for F1.

Montezemolo may be sore about Ferrari’s first point-less Grand Prix in 47 races, but I share his frustration with how the current safety car rules can spoil drivers’ races.

Clive at F1 Insight said of Montezemolo’s reaction:

Apparently, it is ‘humiliating’ for the sport to rely on Safety Car periods to spice up races. Strange that Luca should never have mentioned this before, considering that the Safety Car has been around for years and its appearance always has an effect on race results.

It’s a fair point and although Montezemolo targeted some of his criticism at the Singapore circuit I don’t think he has more reason to be upset with how the safety car affected the race than some other team bosses. The error that ruined Felipe Massa’s race could have happened at a normal pit stop – indeed, it did for Kimi Raikkonen at Valencia and Ferrari’s failure to learn from that was the real cause of their woes.

If anyone should be annoyed at how the safety car changed his race it is Robert Kubica. He, like Nico Rosberg, was forced to pit under the safety car when the pit lane was ‘closed’, and was given a penalty. But because he pitted a lap later than Rosberg he became stuck behind Giancarlo Fisichella and wasn’t able to capitalise on the timing as Rosberg did.

Pit closure rules ruin races

Kubica is not the first driver to have his race ruined by a safety car appearance that coincided with a pit stop, thereby ruining his race. And it had a potentially significant bearing on the world championship: his 14-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton is now 20.

Since the pit lane closure rules were introduced in 2007 we’ve seen several occasions where drivers’ races have been ruined by the appearance of the safety car such as:

The fact it is not in use yet, when the FIA originally aimed for a solution before the Monaco Grand Prix, suggests it is not working well.

The FIA should have seen it coming

Max Mosley may think some F1 fans are “stupid” but his regime’s failure to anticipate the obvious faults with the ‘pit lane closed’ rule are hardly a sign of good governance.

Now F1 is faced with either scrapping the ‘pit lane closure’ rule – which I doubt will happen as it was brought in on safety grounds – or find some new solution.

Since the French Grand Prix the drivers have been testing a system where, when the safety car is deployed, they have to go into a special ‘slow-down mode’ and lap the circuit at a prescribed pace. But some drivers have expressed concerns about this complicated new system. Mark Webber said:

I know I always get in trouble when I say this, but Charlie [Whiting] keeps saying we can improve it, but I don’t think there is anything we can do to make it more complicated than it is now.

What if…

The fact such an ill-conceived rule was created in the first place is damning criticism of the FIA’s governance of Formula 1. As is the inconclusive attempt to find a solution which has dragged on for over a year with no success.

The threat of the safety car deciding the title was a concern last year and it’s the same again this year.

Imagine a scenario where one of the championship challengers has their race ruined by the safety car at Interlagos and misses out on the title because of it. The sport’s credibility would be dealt another hammer blow by the people in charge of running it.

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76 comments on “Luca di Montezemolo is right: F1’s safety car rules are humiliating for the sport”

  1. Once again, the speed which with the various officials act is the key issue. I understand the basis for the pit closure rule, and I think it has merit at some level. However, that safety gain is realized in only one lap – why not let cars in one lap after the safety car is deployed rather than waiting three or four (and thus putting some competitors in the position of deciding between a penalty and running out of gas)?

    It’s unlikely that anyone would be forced to take a penalty with just one extra lap, the crews would have time to make preparations, and the drivers would be able to make an orderly entrance into the pits.

  2. Hilarious – reading how he’d his panties rucked up about this made me roar with laughter, I’m afraid, Keith.

    And after that I wasn’t really in the state of mind to seriously analyse what he was saying.

  3. Montezemolo may or may not be right about the saftey car issue, I make no comment on that.

    The massive shame is that he chose the weekend when both his drivers bombed out of the race for reasons utterly unrelated to the saftey car to make his complaint about it, it smacks of being a sore loser. I am entirely unconvinced that he would have made the same statement about the car had it worked to his teams advantage.

  4. Arguably Ferrari didn’t lose any points at the weekend due to the pit lane being closed; Massa wa already at the back fighing with Force Indias having driven down the pitlane with his fuel pipe attached, and Kimi hit the wall without any help from anyone.

    Montezemolo is right though – the current system does throw an unnecessarily random deal of the cards mid-race.

    I don’t know why no-one’s been listening to the BMW drivers and Mario Thiessen saying the same thing all season. Do you need to wear a red shirt to be heard or is it just that people are enjoying seeing the head of Ferrari in a mood over their result on Sunday??

  5. What I thought was ridiculous was how it took the stewards about 3 laps to decide that Rosberg had illegally entered the pits when it was obvious he had. How difficult can it be to realise a car came in when the pit lane was closed?!! After all, the stewards were the same people who closed it!

    This, and the ridiculous rule that a car can wait 3 laps before coming in, meant Rosberg had something like 7 laps out front of Fisichella, over whom he had about 20 seconds after those laps, so the stop and go really did absolutely nothing at all.

    Bit of a mess really.

  6. diseased rat, my thoughts exactly. Can’t take him seriously because this just appears to be a case of sour grapes and thus it detracts from his argument.

  7. Again, it all comes down to the sheer amateurish nature of the policies and procedures of the FIA.

    But yes, it would have been nice had Luca di Montezemolo had made his comments at a time when other teams had been put at a disadvantage in a race, rather than at an incident when he own team cock everything up without any help from a safety car.

  8. Awww, did Fewwawi not win a wace? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    His World Champion driver spent another race yo-yoing his lap times around, and in the end couldn’t be ***** any more and stuffed it in a wall. Add to this the shambles that is his pit crew royally screwing up yet again, followed by Massa’s pootle to the finish line after landing back in 18th. The safety car was and always has been completely random, and can ruin races for some, and make them for others. This time round it was Ferrari’s turn

    Deal with it Montie.

    Whilst I agree the godawful ‘pit lane closed’ rule needs to be scrapped, you can’t go on and on AND ON about safety in F1 and then just go damning something like the safety car.

  9. Although I really dislike the pit-lane closure rule (but I also disagree with in race re-fueling) I’ve got to side with Charlie Whiting when he said to the teams, “just run 2 laps more fuel than normal”. It’s an obvious answer to the problem (until it is sorted out properly) and if you’re willing to take the risk for the gains then you have to accept that sometimes that gamble may not pay off.

  10. The safety car period is lame, before you’d just lose time….now you can be put to the back of the pack. I don’t know, kind of lame to have it closed for 3-4 laps. Also, it took them way too long to penalize Kubica and Rosberg, who would have been at the back if they did it on time.

  11. At last somebody from Ferrari to open his eyes and see the reality about FIA :-) Unfortunately this only happens when they get hurt. Ferrari never sees issues with FIA when somebody else suffers. But what goes around comes around ;-)

  12. a bit off-topic: do you remember the comment on ITV when Massa drove off with the fuel hose? :-) It was “I’m sure that at this moment back at his expensive home in Italy Luca Di Montezemolo threw something soft at his no doubt expensive TV” :-) :-) :-) An almost Clive James remark :-)

  13. I’ve got to side with Charlie Whiting when he said to the teams, “just run 2 laps more fuel than normal”.

    I’m sorry but that’s just so very wrong. Let’s do the maths.

    A pit stop in Singapore happens every 20 laps on average.

    Running 2 laps extra fuel loses you .5 second every lap.

    So that’s 10 seconds per pit stop.

    The penalty for coming in at the wrong time is a 10 sec stop and go, so that’s a total of 30 seconds.

    2 cars out of 20 got this penalty.

    But the ratio of losing 10 seconds to being sure of not losing 30 is 1/3.

    So you’re asking cars to guarantee losing 10 seconds so they don’t lose 30, but yet the chance of them doing this in the event of a safety car (which itself may not happen) is 1/10.

    Sorry, it just doesn’t make mathematical sense, the teams know this and this proposed solution is illogical.

  14. I knew about the system being developed by the FIA, but it all seems rather complex.

    As I understand it, the driver would receive an alert when the safety car was deployed, they’d then have to acknowledge receipt and slow down to the prescribed speed.

    But it just raises an extra set of issues – how long do drivers have to acknowledge the alert? Can an alert be reliably received by all the cars at roughly the same time, e.g. what about cars in the tunnel at Monaco? What happens if a driver doesn’t acknowledge the alert, is a penalty due? Likewise if the driver doesn’t slow down sufficiently?

    I can think of two other, less complex, options.

    Firstly, change the rules to require that all teams must incorporate reserve fuel tanks that can at most carry enough fuel for two laps. Ahead of the race, all teams submit their fuel strategies to Charlie Whiting in sealed envelopes. Unless there has been a safety car deployed that interferred with the strategy, the tank must be full at the end of the race. The envelopes are returned to the teams, still sealed, after the race – unless the reserve tank has been used.

    Secondly, reduce the minimum weight of F1 cars by two laps of fuel specifically for safety car deployments. If teams opt to use ballast rather than the extra fuel then they have to accept the risk of running out of fuel behind a safety car.

  15. Any solution that we propose to this problem will have some disadvantage. It is only a question of whether you can live with such a disadvantage when your favorite driver is penalized.

    Consider this. Let’s say the running order is RAI, MAS, HAM with less than 10 second difference between RAI and HAM.

    There’s a safety car incident just before the first pit stop. What is Ferrari’s strategy now? No matter which driver you bring in first, you lose one of the two spots. If MAS is the championship contender, then Ferrari will pit MAS and McLaren will pit HAM. This will have the running order as MAS and HAM after the stops. So, RAI loses his #1 spot.

    This seems just fine until the race demands that MAS had to win by 3 points over HAM to get the championship. In the original running order, the second pit stop would have seen MAS overtake RAI, but that doesn’t happen anymore.

    To make the situation even worse, let’s assume that both RAI and MAS are contending and for either one to win the championship, they have to win by 3-point margin over HAM. No matter which driver Ferrari selects to pit, they will lose the championship.

    I would like the people who make decisions to understand that a safety car rule WILL indeed bring some unexpected changes in the running order and is part of racing.

  16. The safety car did affect Ferrari’s race in Singapore – thanks to having to wait while Massa was re-fuelled, Raikkonen went from third to 15th when the pit lane was re-opened. Kimi has always been Luca’s golden boy (although patience must be wearing thin by now) so he would have noticed how the luck of the draw hit his star driver – and hence his annoyance. Note that the Ferraris must have been fuelled to within a lap of each other and that it was the SC that forced the team to bring them in together.

    Charlie Whiting’s solution needs to be treated with the contempt the man deserves. Kubica did two laps behind the SC before being forced to pit for fuel – in this instance the pit lane was closed for three laps and so anyone taking Charlie’s advice and due to pit on the first SC lap would have been caught out too. The length of pit lane closures varies enormously and so for Charlie to make his suggestion was indicative of how the idiots are running the show.

    It is also illogical to rail against the SC rules and then carp about Rosberg managing to minimise the effect of his penalty. The rule is stupid, yes, but full marks to Nico for taking advantage of the three laps he was allowed after being given the penalty.

  17. What if the teams provided to the race officials, at the start of the race and after each refueling pit stop, a lap number indicating when the tank will be absolutely empty? This number would be used only in the event of a Safety Car appearance and should be kept in total secrecy (perhaps deleted without even being seen by anybody if there are no SCs during the race), and carefully documented IF they are in need to be used. Teams can bring their cars to pits any time they like provided that the race status is normal. But, once the SC is deployed, the officials should refer to the info provided by the teams, and every lap under SC they should allow refuelling those cars whose numbers are coincident without them incurring any penalty. It is not the best solution perhaps, but could be a stop-gap measure.

  18. These suggestions of teams telling Charlie Whiting before the race their strategies are ridiculous. For the first stop it may work at a stretch, but so often strategies are changed mid race by events such as a safety car (see: Piquet @ Hockenheim). You can’t ask teams to pre-determine their race strategies because they change all the time due to weather, safety cars, tyre blow outs etc. Silly idea.

  19. I think I have a mighty great idea here. Have your #1 driver pit. Then a lap later, your #2 driver (who’s hopefully not in contention for the championship) crash/stop his car in a place where the safety car would have to be called to clear the car/mess. Basically what happened with Renault at Singapore, only do it intentionally. If your competitor hasn’t pitted yet, consider your #1 driver the winner of the race :)

  20. AmericanTifosi
    1st October 2008, 13:31

    Luca is right. Everytime the saftey car comes out, you can chuck all your predictions in the bin. It shouldn’t be that difficult to find a better format!

    P.S. In that picture on the top, don’t you just love Massa’s face?

  21. What nonsense! Sealed envelopes, secret strategies to be revealed ONLY if a safety car is deployed. This is racing people, you can’t create rules to govern random events.

    What can be better regulated (and trained) are the OFFICIALS. Pits should be opened the first full lap after the safety car is deployed. Not 2 or 3. If any team runs the tank down to the point to where they can’t complete one full lap under yellow, they deserve a penalty.

    Luca’s whimpering over Singapore is no doubt due to the Ferrari Intervention Association’s inability to level the field after his pit crew screwed the pooch. Why did it take them so long to call Kubica’s and Rosberg’s drive throughs? They were preoccupied trying to muddle through the Ferrari debacle and it took the nimrods 20 minutes to conclude there was no way to rig this outcome.

    In short it’s not the rules, it’s the governance, which is…..Our dear old friend Max “Spanky” Mosley. Time to send him off to the sexual deviates old age home and bring in real leadership.

  22. How about this;

    In case of a safety car intervention; it bunches the cars together, and then; the race is STOPPED till debris or whatever be the reason of safety car intervention is cleared.

    This way, no cars will run out of fuel on track, plus we have a race-restart which can be more exciting.

    If someone did pit just before the safety car was deployed ( Red Bull at singapore ); then, that driver is stopped at the pit exit; and has to restart from there, behind all the other cars.

    This can be useful, I think..

  23. How about: when the safety car is deployed, a log is made of the time gaps between all the cars and the leader. If you pit, 20 secs + time of your pit stop is added on. Then, you’re not allowed to pass the start/finish line until this time after the leader has crossed.

    IT can cover the technicalities easily, the drivers could easily be told how far/behind they are to when the safety car started.

    The race continues as normal. Problem solved.

  24. Stopping the race in a normal safety car situation is a bit overkill. Whenever they stop the cars for more than a few seconds they have to switch everything off (otherwise they will overheat) and you start loosing tyre temp, brake temp etc.

    So you would have to bring all the pre-start equipment & personnel back onto the track and have a longer pause in the race (like in a red-flag situation).

  25. Simon,
    that is effectively the solution that is in place now.

    Instead of 20 + secs to the race time; drivers are given a stop-go penalty; which is effectively 20 + seconds added to the time.

  26. I don’t think this situation can be resolved until the marshalling and track layouts are sorted out (I’m not knocking marshalls by the way; they’re usually volunteers and provide an invaluable service to motorsport).

    When Piquet lost traction at Singapore and put his Renault into the wall, it took the best part of two laps under the safety car before anyone went anywhere near it to get it out of the way. No wonder drivers had to pit under the safety car – the reason they were out behind it so long was because the cause of the reduced speed wasn’t shifted for ages.

  27. You can’t ask teams to pre-determine their race strategies because they change all the time due to weather, safety cars, tyre blow outs etc. Silly idea.

    Simon, if you read my post carefully, you will note that I wrote “at the start of the race and after each refueling pit stop
    Perhaps it’s a silly idea and utter nonsense as GeorgeK also remarked, so please post what do you propose instead. I realize it’s pretty awkward and prone to suspicions, I’m only trying to figure out a way that the hapless BMW boys don’t get wronged every time there is a SC, as Keith pointed out the one at Singapore almost destroyed Robert Kubica’s chances to the WDC.

  28. And Simon, your solution could be fair, but it seems to me even more difficult to implement than mine…

    If you pit, 20 secs + time of your pit stop is added on. Then, you’re not allowed to pass the start/finish line until this time after the leader has crossed.

    How on earth you “don’t allow the drivers to pass the start/finish line until this time after the leader has crossed”?

  29. GeorgeK, you made me laugh. I too thought all these solutions were incredibly complicated and thought they were a joke until I realised that they were meant to be serious.

    I think the safety car is necessary and just has to be managed by the teams as they are all essentially in the same boat. Ferrari can hardly blame the safety car for their cock-ups in Singapore.

  30. You have systems which track it (not difficult – we have lap timings and pit lane timings) and it shows up as a plus or minus number on the HUD in the car.

  31. Simon (#13) is bang on the money about why the ‘just leave extra fuel in the car’ idea doesn’t make sense. Ironically McLaren did try it at Monaco last year and ended up having a row over team orders as a result. By Canada they must have gien up on the idea – and Alonso ended up getting caught out by it. D’oh!

  32. Simple solution: Ban refuelling.

    1) That would mean no more fuel hoses getting pulled out down the pitlane. No more pit lane refuelling fires.

    2) Stickier, less durable tyres could be used to improve mechanical grip. Teams would race each other to change tyres when they get worn out.

    3) KERS – When it comes in could help teams run less fuel and save weight, rather than have some silly boost function.

    4) No more safety car refuelling problems.

    5) Banning refuelling would make Q3 a low fuel qualifying session! :D

    and yes Keith has already done a “reasons to ban refuelling” already, but I strongly agree with banning it.

    Yes, I do agree that some teams have used refuelling to their benefit and the Singapore GP was great for Renault. But if you keep the two type of tyres and ban refuelling you still have to pit sometime.

  33. @22: good idea for the race restart, but will be time-consuming and will put extra load on the engines. There are 2 main reasons to have a SC: 1) keep the cars runing so that their engines do not overheat or need to be restarted and 2) there is a 2hr time limit for a race, and a race restart is at least 10 min extra.

    So we need a safety car, but I really do not get it why the pitlane should be closed! See Indy – works OK there with even more unsafe pitlane.

  34. Off-topic comment (quote) below.

    There is no denying Kimi remains the fastest driver. Only he and Michael have done this (in fact Kimi has done it twice, and with 3 races remaining, he will surely break the FL record).

    ” Despite crashing out and scoring no points, world champion Kimi Raikkonen equalled a record at Sunday’s Singapore grand prix. The Finn set the fastest lap of the sport’s first night race; his tenth such achievement in the 15 grands prix so far in 2008.

    It equals Michael Schumacher’s standing record of ten fastest laps in the 2004 season, an achievement 28-year-old Raikkonen also equalled as a McLaren driver in 2005.”

  35. I agree with Chalky that refuelling should be banned for the reasons that he stated #32 and for all the reasons that Keith has stated long before

  36. Do the FIA give a reason why the Pit Lane is closed as the SC goes out? If its just to protect the SC on its ‘out lap’ then its a bit bizarre, as we actaully saw the SC stop at the first corner, where he has to hope the leading car will see him I suppose.
    And if the ruling is just to stop cars refueling early and gaining an advantage, surely the Red Bulls did that anyway in Singapore – aren’t they quick learners! No doubt they will be penalised next time…..
    It would be safer to allow the Pit Lane to stay open, or isn’t a car running out of fuel a ‘Safety’ issue any more? Even though it could stop anywhere on the track!
    As for Luca’s comments, I think it is a big dose of sour grapes, since he cannot publically blame his team for being prats!

  37. I agree about banning the refuelling. I liked F1 when drivers had to manage a heavy car at the start of the race with all the consequences on the brakes and tyres. And that will also oblige drivers to overtake on the track instead of waiting for the pit-stop. However the car areodynamic has also a part in the lack of overtaking; hopefully next year cars will help solve the overtaking issue at least in part (but I am not so sure!). Anyway, Montezemolo talks a lot about tracks, pit-stops, safety cars and so on but he is not doing anything in concrete. I am Italian and I like to see Ferrari winning races but in my view Montezemolo is really not the best person to listen to in the F1 paddock!

  38. @DG The pit-lane is closed initially to stop cars racing round the track to get back to the pits for a quick pit stop when there should be a full circuit yellow flag.

  39. El Gordo, so they only shifted this rush a bit ahead in time – everybody rushes to the pitlane when it is opened, no matter when. Don’t really see the real safety advantage here.

  40. You have systems which track it (not difficult – we have lap timings and pit lane timings) and it shows up as a plus or minus number on the HUD in the car.

    Nice Simon, and you end with ten cars stopped behind the line awaiting for the number in the HUD giving them clearance?

  41. I just wonder if the safety car problem can be solved if race control had a “slow down button’ which limits their top speed that race control can push to slow all the cars down at the exact same moment when the safety car is deployed, and not one controlled by the driver where if pushed at different times, could lead to accidents as cars slow down at different times and cars behind may not have slowed down yet, leading to them hitting drivers from behind. This is so the pit lane can remain open as the cars would not be speeding back anymore.

  42. @ukk – the rush to get to the pits was on the track, not in the pit lane. It should be safe in the pit lane. I think it was put in to stop things like THIS happening:

  43. @ukk (post 33)

    So we need a safety car, but I really do not get it why the pitlane should be closed! See Indy – works OK there with even more unsafe pitlane.

    Good point, ukk. And as Ferrari proved in Singapore and Valencia, the pit lane in F1 is dangerous whether it’s open or not.

    Having a pitlane that is closed because of the safety car obviously doesn’t work if teams have no option but to refuel their car.
    Refuelling = dangerous. Therefore why bother closing it?

  44. El Gordo – I knew it was something bizarre like that – and was there any proof that the cars that were penalised had actually done that? Surely they are more likely to be at the point of ‘fuel saving’ and cruising slowly before pitting?
    I agree with those who would like to see the cars do a whole race on on tank of fuel, and surely with the new KERS technology that is more likely to happen, the first team to do it will have a huge advantage? And be penalised for it……

  45. OK here’s a thought – why not allow drivers to pit under the safety car, but require them to shuffle back into their original order before the end of the safety car period. Therefore there’s no incentive to rush back to the pits.

    It’s not a great solution as some drivers are still disadvantaged, but it could work for the last three races of this year, and then they could just ban refuelling for next year when the designers have enough time to fit bigger fuel tanks in…

  46. I like the idea Keith, but what happens under a disagreement? You reckon some of the less intelligent drivers out there would be able to remember where they are?

    And what happens when six pit at once??

  47. “So we need a safety car, but I really do not get it why the pitlane should be closed! See Indy – works OK there with even more unsafe pitlane.”

    Actually, most Indycar pitlanes are twice as wide as F1. Hence it’s a bit safer when all the cars bomb in. Even so, there are still collisions between cars entering their stalls and cars leaving.

  48. michael counsell
    1st October 2008, 17:54

    The teams choose not to run their car till its empty, they can expect a safety car to come out. Its a calculated risk. They all know this. Everything about strategy is. Its fundamental to success in every wlak of life.

    I LOVE it when the tortoise beats the hare.

  49. Fergus Gallas
    1st October 2008, 18:16

    Safety Cars were introduced in F1 for only one reason. Broadcasting Tv time. Bernie’s fingers here.
    Before that, whenever there was a big mess on the track, the race was stopped and we had a new start. The teams had spare cars for the drivers and they were allowed to start again. Some races lasted 3 hours of TV time. Once I watched a race with 3 starts and it was great.
    Before SCs The drivers had a second chance after such a big fussed start.
    Good old days. I don’t believe they would change the rules for next year, and that is really a shame.

  50. Sorry for being out of the subject but in many situations(festivals, open concerts…etc) the organaizers manage to keep the rain out of the show by many ways .One I am familiar with is bombarding the clouds with helicopters.I suppose that F1 organaizers have this power to do this. So it is very likely singapore organaizers to did this in order to avoid a terrible accident in this dangerous race or somehow to help ferrari….

    Your thoughts please….I am really very uneasy thinking something like this I don’t know maybe is out of the question ,but it would give strange power to many people

  51. sorry Luca, I’ve got no sympathy for you or your team…. When you lucked out at Spa, you didnt speak out then, but now, when justice seems to have been met, you throw your toys out of the pram. boo bloomin’ hoo…

  52. Keith, you didn’t add Kimi’s in Canada. Even Hamilton’s race in Germany, all in 2008. The fact Hamilton won the race was a chance event, just that his car was performing very well, but he actually came back out in 5th position instead of in the lead.

    And we have discussed this in an earlier post on here. So we all see the need for the mess to be addressed.

  53. Oliver – I was only considering drivers who’ve been forced to pit while the pit lane was closed and therefore received penalties. I’m not arguing against having a safety car, it’s the pit lane closure rule that’s the problem.

    Besides which, Hamilton’s pit stop at Germany wouldn’t have been a problem if McLaren hadn’t pulled one of their classic strategy gaffes.

  54. Humiliating, correct. But what about when Lewis Hamilton had a talented drive taken off him and given to your driver that wasn’t even in contention. That was humiliating and you didn’t speak up. You’re right Luca but you’re saying it at the wrong time and it is a bit rich coming from you.

  55. I used to like the old system.

    The dash for the pits when the safety car came out used to be very entertaining and the inevitable queueing gave the field a good shake up.

    It may not be “pure racing” but neither are wet races & very few people ever complain about them

    I can’t remember any more accidents caused by the old rules than we get anyway under normal conditions.

    If the point is to protect the safety car when it first comes out then the race director or stewards could have a button that slows all cars down at the same time that would be pressed as they release the safety car.

    The teams used to have remote control over several aspects of the cars before it was banned so there’s no reason this wouldn’t be technically possible.

  56. yeah, Eddie, keep dreaming.

    I love the way you bash Ferrari, when the only chances Irvine had to race were with them.

    I find more factible to have Nelson crash his car in order to make Alonso, which had already stopped into the boxes, win the race.

    About the safety car problem, the teams could notify which lap they will do the next planned stop, not penalizing drivers which do the stop at that lap. Unfortunately the paranoids would automatically see the FIA cheating allowing Ferrari to stop whenever they want.

  57. aa – Eddie didn’t say anything about Ferrari. There’s no need to make this personal.

  58. F1 needs to take a page from NASCAR (I can see this getting me hate mail). F1 I have noticed takes its sweet time figureing things out. Penalties take 2 to 3 laps to decided or at the end of a race. NASCAR gives the penalty right then right now. I thought it was a good race but I frist started seeing racing in NASCAR so seeing a safty car decide some races is not new to me. I think part of the problem is the one pit for two cars. If they had a crew for two cars hey there would be no problem. Just my 2cents.

  59. Jess, an individual pit (maybe even an individual crew too) would allow drivers to pit more safely without getting held up by their team mate.

    Would allow them to pit at the same time in normal conditions too.

    I don’t think there’s enough space at most tracks though and it would cost a lot to redevelop them.

    I started watching NASCAR occasionally a few years ago and I was surprised at how big their pit lanes are and bet F1 teams wish they had that much space most races.

    An oval is much easier to watch than a circuit so the F1 stewards are using TV film to judge most penalties.

    So no hate mail yet, I agree but don’t think it’s possible :~)

  60. Nothing is going to change this year, and the solution for next year is already in place (pit lane open, but a speed limit is imposed in the section of the track where any accident has occurred), it just needs to be tested until everyone’s happy with it. This way, you don’t get drivers ploughing flat-out into debris of another accident, and the marshals are a bit safer too.

    As I understand it currently, any speeding in that section (within the usual tolerance) would result in a drive-through or similar.

  61. So let’s get re-fueling banned. Can we also get the required prime/option tire switch tossed out as well? I’m a bit of an F1 newbie, but what’s the purpose of that requirement anyway?

    Seems like this would solve numerous problems, so therefore it can’t possibly happen!

  62. The rules concerning pitstops made under safety car conditions are bad, and deserve changing, but I find Di Montezemolo’s comments hard to take. After the highly charged and controversial race at Spa, he openly claimed that ‘justice’ had been served, and the ‘correct’ decision had been made. Correct for Ferrari maybe, but correct for Formula One?
    I can just imagine his poison being vented if it had been Raikkonen or Massa demoted from the top step, after one of the best races in years. I can remember that he also had little to say after the debacle of Austria 2002, inwhich his team insisted that Rubens Barrichello surrender his lead in favour of Schumacher.
    And of course, last year’s spy scandal, inwhich he took every opportunity available to him to pour petrol on the flames.
    At the end of the day, Raikkonen crashed out and Massa had his pitstop screwed up, end of story. The pitstop at Singapore affected everybody’s race, including Lewis Hamilton, who also lost track position badly through pitting.
    It is quite distastefull to have Ferrari lecturing us on the morals of Formula One, and what is good for the sport. What is truly good for the sport, and the mark of ‘true’ champions, is to take defeat on the chin and win the next three grands prixs. Then I will respect Ferrari and Di Montezemolo’s opinion all the more.
    As for the rules, it is absolutely disgusting what happened to Kubica and Rosberg, and has nothing to do with safety. If you can remember three years ago, teams were not even allowed to change tyres, a factor that played a big part in that seasons championship, and contributed massively to Kimi Raikkonen’s crash at the Nurburgring.
    Formula One has only a twenty car field spread, unlike NASCAR with around forty cars involved. In almost every instance, in NASCAR, the pitstops are made under safety car conditions to avoid losing out track position. Granted, each car has its own pit stall, unlike F1, but in the most part the pitcrews involved are rarely in any real danger.
    The problem with the FIA, is that they change the rules too much, and in the main, it has a negative affect on the racing. One thing is for certain, as Keith pointed out, that if these rules are not changed, we will see a driver lose a championship due to them, and not due to an on track error. And when that happens, it will make Spa 2008 look like very small
    potatoes indeed!

  63. Keith, i think you missed this

    Post #49 Eddie Irvine 1 October 2008 at 6:33 pm

    “Sorry for being out of the subject but in many situations(festivals, open concerts…etc) the organaizers manage to keep the rain out of the show by many ways .One I am familiar with is bombarding the clouds with helicopters.I suppose that F1 organaizers have this power to do this. So it is very likely singapore organaizers to did this in order to avoid a terrible accident in this dangerous race or somehow to help ferrari….”

  64. CD – True, but he was hardly “bashing Ferrari” was he? Let’s keep the discussion to the point – which is the safety car rules – and not squabbling about which teams people like.

  65. Here’s my take

    Since everybody were affected by the bad rule, I guess there should be an acceptance from all teams. Rules are still rules, everybody should obey them even if they are bad rules. If you can’t obey/accept them… get lost! Look for other races not governed by FIA. FIA made the rules, if you hate FIA then you hate the rules (maybe not all of them).

  66. Keith,

    maybe he is… indirectly.

    sorry for the of topic again.

  67. Cd –

    Since everybody were affected by the bad rule, I guess there should be an acceptance from all teams.

    But that’s the point: not everybody has been affected by the rules. They only affect occasional drivers entirely at random.

    Some people would argue “it doesn’t matter because it the long run each driver and team will be affected”, but it doesn’t work that way because safety car periods don’t happen often enough in F1 (unlike, say, NASCAR or Indy Car).

  68. Keith

    But that’s also the point: “it’s randomly happening.” so i think it was fair enough. it’s part of racing. I am a ferrari fan, in this case i must say that it didn’t go well for ferrari due to the safety car issues, but i didn’t mind. It’s part of the game, sometimes the ball goes your way, sometimes not. It’s random anyway.

  69. CD – What I’m talking about here is the ‘pit lane closure’ rule, which didn’t affect Ferrari at all. It only affects a tiny number of drivers per season but it usually destroys their races when it does.

  70. oh sorry about that Keith, i thought were talking about the safety car rules as a whole. In this case, affected parties may appeal. but don’t expect FIA will consider it. most all sports have bad rules. they are the one’s spicing up the game.

  71. most all sports have bad rules. they are the one’s spicing up the game.

    That’s a nugget of pure truth right there!

  72. Closing the pitlane is nothing to do with protecting the safety car. It’s all about stopping drivers from racing back to the pits through yellow flag zones, when there may be debris or marshalls on the track.

    Did this happen before the current rules came in? Yes, at the 2003 Brazilian GP Fernando Alonso was doing exactly this and crashed heavily on the debris from Mark Webber’s Jaguar, which had gone off in a big way just before the pits.

    If the pitlane is closed as soon as the safety car has gone out, there’s no incentive to get back to the pits ASAP. But the pits aren’t physically closed, so cars can still come into refuel albeit with a ten second stop go penalty. It’s this rule that ruins races, not the safety car generally.

  73. The pit lane closure rule under the safety car is completely ridiculous. We are led to believe these are all professional teams and there are a whole host of pit lane rules, so surely the drivers and teams should just be allowed to get on with racing and not be penalized for their car running out of fuel at the wrong time.

    mmmmm incidentally and I wonder what Ferrari sales are like in that part of the world…

  74. In the IRL you can pit when pit lane is closed only to get fuel if you are otherwise going to run out–just a splash. You cannot get new tires and you cannot make changes to the car. Such a rule would have certainly have helped Rosberg and Kubica.

  75. We don’t need the Safety Car in my opinion. Just introduce a full-course yellow on the first lap after an accident and then a maximum speed for the following laps.

  76. bernification
    5th October 2008, 1:21

    This rule was introduced because of drivers failing to drive safely- the FIA are just responding to the drivers behaviour.

    I remember Alonsos crash very well and thought at the time that it was a very irresponsible way to drive- had there been any marshalls on circuit he would have totalled them.
    So really, it’s a responce to the drivers behaviour, and in this win at all cost mentality any time someone can take an advantage out of a situation, they will.

    The FIA are just trying to maintain the safety of there marshalls.

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