Safety car, Korea, 2011

Lapped cars allowed to pass safety car in 2012

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. That’s good but won’t it take too much time to get things sorted out? I think only the top 10 cars should be cleaned.

  2. Surely a simpler solution would be allow the race order to be reordered behind the safety car. So noone is ahead of the safety car but lapped cars can get back to where they are meant to be.

  3. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
    7th December 2011, 14:55

    To all those saying let the lapped cars just fall to the back of the pack rather than go around, this solution would be VERY unfair:

    Consider this scenario. Vettel 1st, Petrov 12th, Buemi 13th. Petrov and Buemi are 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 the dropping behind rule, Buemi would be lapped by Petrov. As would the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th etc. placed cars. Not exactly fair.

    Basically this ‘dropping behind 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.

  4. I’m all for getting back markers out of the way at a SC restart, all to often we’ve seen the leader get a free pass with nothing but an Lotus or HRT to “challenge”. And it’s not always as if the leader has a huge margin over 2nd place, sometimes the SC with back markers behind is a big help.
    But is passing the SC the best answer? Maybe but if it can be controlled, let cars pass behind the SC where it’s safe, ie away from the incident/accident that caused the caution.

  5. Lots of straw man arguments in the comments here :)

    Everyone seems to be assuming (and I guess the article implies it too) that unlapped cars will be required to rejoin the end of the train before the restart can take place, but is this actually the case?

    Why not just get the cars unlapping, and then chasing around at the allowed delta (which is a touch faster than the safety car’s speed), and the restart happens whenever race controls decides the track is clear – no matter whether the unlapped cars have caught up or not.

    Yes, you might have cars dotted all over the circuit rather than in a neat train but at least the leaders will be lined up in order for the restart, and the restart doesn’t have to be delayed.

    Granted I haven’t looked up the actual rule – has anyone seen it?

    1. @graham228221

      Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.

  6. Just put blue flags out a lap before the safety car is in, so that you get drivers on the lead lap first, then those a lap down and so on, problem solved.

    It’s simple, quick and fair. The exact opposite of what FIA has done.

    1. Well, it’s not that fair… But it is simple and quick. Which beats the FIA’s method.

      The only thing I’d suggest is that a lap before might not be enough time. I’d say as soon as possible.

      1. Whenever it’s safe enough to do it, but when it is the safety car comes in, so there’s not much extra time. You can’t have people lapping each other when there are marshalls on track.

        And I think it would be more or less fair – it would be the same as it was this year, just more interesting and less trafficky.

  7. sid_prasher (@)
    7th December 2011, 19:45

    Cars in order at the restart makes sense…

    Why aren’t they changing the red flag rule – that should have been higher in the priority list!

  8. Strikes me as being fair. I’d rather drivers have the ability to unlap themselves so we can have some sort of a race on our hands. This will certainly shake things up at the back.

    1. Next we should get rid of blue flags.

      1. @mike I’m not convinced we should. I do feel a bit bad for the guys at the back, constantly having to make way. However, you could have a situation where it’s all too convenient for one backmarker to hold-up a leading driver when a championship is at stake.

        Say you had Caterham/Lotus at the back of the grid and one of their drivers was purposefully holding back a Ferrari from challenging for the win and potential championship victory. It all gets a bit messy when the Caterham/Lotus driver is powered by the same engine as the guy running in 1st place, a Red Bull.

        Perhaps a little over the top but it wouldn’t surprise me in Formula 1.

  9. Most seem to assume that it is Vettel who has benefitted most from safety car restarts robbing them of action *cough* Singapore *cough*. But say Lewis Hamilton is leading a race with 20 second lead with 10 laps remaining, but also nursing a problem which is costing him 1.5 seconds to the guy behind. If a safety car was to occur now, not only will his margin be wiped and the people inbetween the 20 second interval be allowed to unlap themselves leaving him vulnerable. In this case will people just call Lewis unlucky or blast FIA for having stupid rules?

  10. This is pretty amusing, really. In all the spirited discussion with points and counterpoints happening here, the most simple solution is clearly the one they’ve put forth. I’m glad they’re finally going to allow this.

    1. The simplest solution would have been to leave it the way it was.

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