Lapped cars allowed to pass safety car in 2012

2012 F1 season

Safety car, Korea, 2011

Expect longer safety car periods in 2012

The FIA has brought back the rule allowing lapped cars to pass the safety car.

The rule was last used in F1 in 2009. It proved problematic because of the large amount of time lapped cars needed to pass the safety car and re-join the train, as most F1 tracks are over five kilometres long.

As a result the rule was enforced inconsistently as the race director occasionally chose not to allow unlapped cars to pass the safety car, in order to prevent the safety car being kept out for too long.

At Suzuka in 2009, the restart was given with four laps to go while leader Sebastian Vettel had the lapped Romain Grosjean behind him.

However allowing lapped cars to pass the safety car will mean more cars will be in their running order at restarts.

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79 comments on Lapped cars allowed to pass safety car in 2012

  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th December 2011, 11:55

    I rather wait for the restart than have a backmaker right between the leader and the chasing pack.

    It’ll be tricky to apply here and there, but all in all, it’s a good thing. It’s good news for HRT, Lotus and Virgin too, I guess, as this will boost their chances of finishing higher up than 13th place (although I think Lotus will do it on their own anyway, Safety Car or not)

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 7th December 2011, 18:30

      I agree. Not only does it promote racing in front, it also promotes racing behind.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 7th December 2011, 23:39

      all in all..

      that’s what Vettel likes to say a lot ;)

    • DVC (@dvc) said on 9th December 2011, 10:22

      Completely disagree. This decision is anti-sport much like the safety car itself.

      Why build up a lead if you are going to have it taken from you by someone else crashing into the barriers. At least before the leader would have the cars they had lapped and 2nd had not inbetween, now there is nothing.

      With all due respect to the 2nd and 3rd tier teams, the race is what happens at the front. Maintaining some semblance of the lead built up is more important than not ruining the battle for 12th and 13th. If you don’t want to lose a lap on the guy ahead of you, don’t go a lap down.

      Of course this could all be avoided if we ditched the SC for a full course speed limit. If you really do need a large gap between the cars and not just have them slowed to walking pace at one part of the track for the marshals to do their job, then stop the race, and restart the cars single file from the pit lane with the same gaps they had before the stoppage. This would be the solution best for the “sport”.

  2. makes the safety car a bit pointless if cars a re allowed to pass it.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 7th December 2011, 12:15

      Exactly.

      Why not just have minimum times for each split?

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 8th December 2011, 5:04

        Agreed and why not have lapped cars slow down even more and be passed until they get in their rightful position, the pits can organise this easily via radio ” Jarno you need to let 4 cars past you and rejoin behind Petrov and in front of Ruebens”

        • frood said on 9th December 2011, 16:19

          this is a much better idea – quite an obvious one too. might get a bit confusing and would have to involve a fair bit of jiggling if people are pitting as well

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 7th December 2011, 21:47

      I agree. The point of the safety car is to slow the traffic for obvious reasons. If cars are uncapping themselves they’ll either be going much too fast past the scene of an accident, or we’ll be waiting forever, neither of which is too appealing. It’s nice that front runners won’t have backmarkers in their way at the restart, but safety should be paramount.

  3. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 7th December 2011, 11:56

    Well I’m not so sure about it. Sure it garuntees excitement when the leaders get closed right up again but its annoying for te driver who builds up a 20sec lead and suddenly has his nearest rival right behind him, whereas at least having the backmarkers in tere gave him a few corners grace.
    the only thing i find positive here is say te SC comes out whilst its lapping a battle for 9th,10th,11th and 12th and has lapped 11th and 12th. At the restart 10th is almost a lap clear of 11th- ruining the battle.
    So that is the 1 positive.

    I assume you can only make up 1 lap maximum at a time

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 7th December 2011, 14:43

      Cautions bunch up the field by their very nature. I don’t consider it more or less fair because it’s to be expected. In many other series, restarts are an art and a part of racing that must be learned to succeed.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 8th December 2011, 5:10

        Yes Joey and unfortunately it seems the organisers are using cautions to bunch the cars up and add a little excitement , in my opinion the safety car as used in oval racing is a major cause of crashes and therefore does not add to the safety of the drivers.

  4. kamikaze said on 7th December 2011, 12:02

    Why not have the lapped cars enter the pit in their running order and then exit the pit when the safety car and following cars have passed pit exit.
    The we wont have to wait for the cars to catch up again

    • SamC (@samc) said on 7th December 2011, 12:13

      use the starting grid for that matter, all cars line up on the grid in race order, and then a formation lap behind the safety car to get a rolling restart

    • HJM1919 said on 7th December 2011, 13:12

      They won’t have gained the lap back though. They’ll still be +1lap on the timing.

      • Puffy (@puffy) said on 7th December 2011, 14:07

        And why shouldn’t they be? The safety car is there to ensure a safe environment for marshals working on the track, not to interfere with the race. It already effects the race far too much for my liking, this just worsens it.

    • Andy G (@toothpickbandit) said on 7th December 2011, 14:50

      But that would be incredibly unfair to the car that had been lapped last.

      Consider this scenario. Vettel 1st, Petrov 12th, Buemi 13th. Petrov and Buemi and battling it out when Vettel comes up to lap them. As Vettel laps Buemi, the SC comes out for a crash in another part of the circuit. Buemi is currently behind Vettel while Petrov is allowed to join the back of the SC tail.

      Under this new rule, Buemi is released and can catch up to the back of Petrov where he was before.

      Under your proposed rule, Buemi would be lapped by Petrov. As would the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th etc. placed cars. Not exactly fair.

      Basically your proposed rule would automatically create over a one lap gap between those who have been lapped by the leader and those who haven’t. The new rule ensures cars return to more or less where they were before… and makes things more exciting at the restart.

      • RobTsintas (@robtsintas) said on 7th December 2011, 15:37

        Just award the drivers that had to go through the pit lane an extra lap, and the problem described above is solved. It would be just as if they had been allowed to pass the SC, without the danger and time taken to actually do so. Everyone’s happy!

        • RobTsintas (@robtsintas) said on 7th December 2011, 16:07

          The added benefit of the pits solution is that the SC can come straight out and need not wait or wave-past in order to pick up the race leader. Anybody in front of the leader can be included in the pit line along with those not on the lead lap. So there will be nobody racing round the track without the SC at all. I also agree with closing the pit lane to pit-stops as soon as the SC is released.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th December 2011, 7:47

            But the pits will be still very busy during the end of the SC, creating a traffic jam, and associated risk, at the end of the last SC lap.

    • niko (@niko) said on 7th December 2011, 23:20

      Just have the unlapped cars (racing order) being able to pass lapped cars, behind the safety car. Job Done. Within a few corners the racing order will be restored. Cars that are lapped +2 should allow lapped cars +1 through, etc…

    • Initially seems like a great idea, but the waiting cars would likely experience in a drop in brake, tyre and engine temperatures beyond what they already suffer behind the safety car. This could result in failures and/or accidents (possibly bringing the safety car straight back out!)

  5. Ben Everard (@beneverard) said on 7th December 2011, 12:05

    I wonder if it would be easier to see lapped cars do a drive trough, wait at pit exit with a red light then rejoin the back of the pack when the last car has passed.

    This means no waiting cars to lap, of which might take time because of the sector time limits imposed.

    It does mean cars which have been lapped more than once might be mixed up with others… but letting them get in the way of other slower cars is less of an issue than getting in the way of the leaders.

    Thoughts?

    • Silverkeg (@silverkeg) said on 7th December 2011, 12:23

      It seems too logical for the FIA.

    • Andy G (@toothpickbandit) said on 7th December 2011, 14:52

      I’ve explained in a previous comment why this would be incredibly unfair:

      But that would be incredibly unfair to the car that had been lapped last.

      Consider this scenario. Vettel 1st, Petrov 12th, Buemi 13th. Petrov and Buemi and battling it out when Vettel comes up to lap them. As Vettel laps Buemi, the SC comes out for a crash in another part of the circuit. Buemi is currently behind Vettel while Petrov is allowed to join the back of the SC tail.

      Under this new rule, Buemi is released and can catch up to the back of Petrov where he was before.

      Under your proposed rule, Buemi would be lapped by Petrov. As would the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th etc. placed cars. Not exactly fair.

      Basically your proposed rule would automatically create over a one lap gap between those who have been lapped by the leader and those who haven’t. The new rule ensures cars return to more or less where they were before… and makes things more exciting at the restart.

      • bag0 (@bag0) said on 7th December 2011, 20:28

        Exept if they dont count the lap while the cars go round, or count it a lap when the cars are in the pitstraight.

        But the bigger problem would be the heat of the cars. they would have to stand still for about 2 mins with running engines & without air cooling. Its a problem as Heidfeld demonstrated it in Hungary, and several other races.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 8th December 2011, 13:58

        But in that case, both case will have caught right back up behind Vettel… Kinda unfair to him.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 8th December 2011, 5:14

      could create engine cooling problems.

  6. squaregoldfish (@squaregoldfish) said on 7th December 2011, 12:06

    I’ve never made my mind up on the right way to go with this – it’s an argument between fairness for the drivers and excitement for spectators.

    My only concern is that safety car periods could become even longer, especially now the lap delta time is in place – it would take a lot of laps for a released car to circle the track and re-catch the back of the train. Even this year the safety car has been brought in while a few cars are a much as half a lap behind the rest of the pack, essentially giving their rivals a huge advantage. Perhaps the delta time should be relaxed once the train has formed (except through the relevant part of the track, obviously) to save time.

    Alternatively, race control could talk to the drivers by radio and shuffle the lapped cars backwards in the train. I reckon that would get too confusing though.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 7th December 2011, 12:15

      Alternatively, race control could talk to the drivers by radio and shuffle the lapped cars backwards in the train. I reckon that would get too confusing though.

      Personally, i feel that would be the best solution, not at all confusing, if race control just gives a clear message and the TV feed gets this in time (when they get the message the SC is comging in next lap) and displays the restart order on screen for half a lap.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 7th December 2011, 12:17

        I agree, Having the cars run round gives them the advantage in terms of brake/tyre temperatures.

        This really is a silly rule to bring in for many reasons.

        • lopes (@lopes) said on 7th December 2011, 17:21

          Yes, completely agree. This kind of thing works for ovals, where you run a minimum of 200 laps, so it’s fine if you “waste” a few getting everyone sorted out.

          But I reckon it’ll probably be worse than it was 2009, with the imposed sector times.

          And I don’t think it’d work to just send the lapped cars to the back of the line and add a lap, as you’d start having questions as to fuel consumption and fairness as the now unlapped cars would effectively have run one less lap than the leaders.

      • squaregoldfish (@squaregoldfish) said on 7th December 2011, 12:18

        I meant confusing for the drivers more than spectators. Having the cars in position order after the safety is much simpler for viewers!

  7. BasCB (@bascb) said on 7th December 2011, 12:08

    Not sure i like this one about cars passing the SC.

    Yes, its good that these cars will not get in the way of exiting racing after a restart, like they did in Singapore this year.
    But having to wait another lap (or 2-3) before the SC pulls in is not much to my liking. Why couldn’t they have had these cars let the leaders past them on the straight before the restart instead?

  8. Ahh good. It was silly have lapped cars between the leaders on safety car restarts.

    • Agree. I know plenty will be against it but I’m really pleased about it. I think it’ll be far less confusing this way too.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 8th December 2011, 7:27

      Agreed. I’m pretty happy about this rule as well. It was such an anti climax when at the restart there were 3-4 back markers separating the cars at the front.

      The safety issue does bother me a little, but I’m sure if there if lapped drivers are given the right amount of flag warning and slow target sector times they will manage just fine.

  9. John H (@john-h) said on 7th December 2011, 12:13

    I have bad memories of Bernd Mayländer waving cars past with his arm in what can only be described as a farce. I hope this doesn’t happen again.

  10. Lustigson (@lustigson) said on 7th December 2011, 12:27

    This appears to be a good rule-change, but with the maximum time allowed per sector — or whatever it’s called — under Safety Car conditions, it will take ages for the unlapped backmarkers to get to the back of the field.

    Or does that rule no longer apply once the cars are allowed to pass the Safety Car? If so, this creates somewhat of a disadvantage for the other drivers, because they can’t warm their tyres and brakes to the extent that the backmarkers can.

    I very much feel for something along the lines of having the lapped cars enter the pit lane, and re-join the race once the field has passed. But what would you do with the amount of laps they are behind the leaders, then?

  11. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th December 2011, 12:33

    I like the idea to get lapped cars out of the way, but it only makes worse a rule that I already don’t like, namely the delta times. With these delta times, it can take a very long time to get an ordered queue of cars behing the SC, and this year’s Canadian GP showed that this can be quite dangerous (with a marshal losing his footing twice in front of Kobayashi’s Sauber).

    With regard to the concern of safety car periods taking longer to allow the cars to bunch up (@BasCB, for instance), I guess the restart does not have to wait for that, although in practive Charlie Whiting probably will.

  12. Jeff (@jtcolegrove) said on 7th December 2011, 12:39

    We’ve been denied several good battles this year because of lapped traffic sitting there and getting caught napping as Vettel takes off.

    Get them the F out of the way and let the leaders go nose to tail for the restart.

    Who really cares if an HRT or a Virgin car get a lap back??? I don’t!

  13. mhop (@mhop) said on 7th December 2011, 12:47

    The rule which they need to re-establish is closing the pit lane under safety car conditions.

    Firstly, the current situation is extremely dangerous. As we often see, once the safety car is called out the entire pack rushes in to the pits. 24 still fast cars, potentially loose wheels, and hundreds of mechanics in close proximity is an accident waiting to happen. We were lucky that no-one was seriously injured or killed in Hungary 2010. I’m amazed the FIA didn’t heed this wake up call.

    Secondly, it is vulgar. A safety car may be brought out because of a serious incident (perhaps with a fellow driver being injured or even killed). For this to trigger an opportunistic rat race is entirely inappropriate.

    Thirdly, it is an entirely unfair lottery. This may be the aspect that excites some ‘fans’ but ‘free pit stops’ under the safety car are not in the interests of fair or honest racing. Valencia 2010 proved just how contrary to sporting interests the safety car situation can be.

    And fourthly, it is an avenue for cheating. As we saw in Singapore 2008 the Safety Car ‘lottery’ is open to abuse, and F1 teams are not above putting their own drivers in danger to gain an unfair advantage from it.

    Closing the pit lane under safety car conditions would solve so many problems, and now that refueling has been banned there is no good reason that it shouldn’t be reestablished.

    Is anyone at the FIA even thinking about this?

    In fact with lap time deltas now easily communicated to the driver via their steering wheel, should we not be thinking about getting rid of the safety car altogether? The drivers should all be able to maintain a safety car pace on their own. In this way the cars would also maintain their relative gaps to each other and we would avoid the unfair bunching up that we often see.

    • Mahir C said on 7th December 2011, 16:52

      Good point actually. It was a bad idea in 2007 because it was too much of a lottery. When SC came out on the lap you are due to come in, you either obeyed the rules and risk running out of fuel or you had to dive in and get a penalty. Now we dont have refueling, so that problem goes away.

      That said, I remember “pit lane is closed when safety car comes out” rule was in place during Singapore 2008. Or else how did Alonso move up so many places in the first place?

  14. What you need is the bloke in the safety car sitting facing the streme of cars behind him. Not trying to look in the door mirror to work out who’s been lapped or not. He can’t see anything by tring to look over his sholder or in the teensy mirror.
    Sit him in the specially fitted out boot facing the cars behind him witha couple of pingpong bats like at an airport and he’ll be able to direct rtaffic. Otherwise its gonna be a classic —- up.

  15. PJ (@pjtierney) said on 7th December 2011, 13:09

    All we need now is to get rid of Blue Flags.

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