Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna, Interlagos, 2010

Massa wants lapped cars out of the way – do you agree?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna, Interlagos, 2010
Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna, Interlagos, 2010

Felipe Massa wants to revive the rule allowing lapped cars to get back on the lead lap during a safety car period.

This idea seemed to be a popular one in the reaction to the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The rule is used in other championships and F1 used to have such a rule, but it was dropped at the start of this season. Do you want the rule to be revived?


The advantage of safety car periods is that they bring cars together on the track, promoting closer racing.

But that benefit is spoiled if there are lots of lapped cars between the leaders – as was the case at Interlagos.

There was so much traffic between the leaders it pretty much guaranteed an uneventful end to the race.

As Felipe Massa said afterwards:

In my opinion, it was better when the rules allowed cars to un-lap themselves when they were behind the Safety Car, as it would have made the racing more interesting.

This is especially true when you consider the situation in the championship, because there were at least a couple of backmarkers between Vettel and Webber at the restart and a lot more between Webber and Fernando, so it was not particularly good in terms of the show.
Felipe Massa

Of course, Massa may well have said this because he was a lap down at the time and would have benefited from getting a lap back.


Safety cars already disadvantage leading cars by eradicating the time advantages they have built up over their rivals.

Is it right that they should also lose the benefit of having lapped more cars than those behind them?

This boils down to an argument about whether to implement rules that are for the benefit of ‘the show’ or rules that are better for F1’s sporting credibility.

I say

I like the idea of getting lapped traffic out of the way in principle. But in practice it’s not easy to implement in F1 without causing other complications.

The sheer amount of time it takes for lapped traffic to complete an extra lap and re-join the end of the safety car train is one such problem.

Because the safety car typically laps the track at more than half racing speed, allowing lapped cars to catch up takes at least two laps.

This is a particular problem close to the end of a race. It led the race director to ignore the rule on some occasions when it was in the regulations.

For example at Suzuka last year the restart was given with four laps to go while leader Sebastian Vettel had the lapped Romain Grosjean right behind him.

The rule works far better in championships that have shorter tracks and slower safety cars – NASCAR and IndyCar, for example. But few F1 circuits are shorter than five kilometres.

An alternative solution could be to force anyone who’s been lapped by the leader to fall to the rear of the safety car train. But it may prove too difficult to instruct drivers to organise themselves in that fashion as each would not necessarily know how many other cars to allow past.

You say

Do you think lapped cars should be allowed to unlap themselves during safety car periods? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should lapped cars be allowed to unlap themselves behind the safety car?

  • Yes (71%)
  • No (25%)
  • No opinion (5%)

Total Voters: 1,915

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