Formula 1 calls for safety car changes

Unfortunately sometimes it takes something horrible happening for meaningful change to seem worthwhile and that looks to be the case at the moment in Formula 1 racing, where the tragic accident this weekend that saw Jules Bianchi collide with a safety car that was helping to recover  the crashed car of another racer. Now fellow drivers and ex-racers are calling for changes to policy that could see safety car practices changed dramatically in the future.

While the safety car was sent out on to the track after the Bianchi crash occurred, ex-Formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve has called on the F1 industry to change its practises, sending out safety cars to slow down racers as soon as any driver is injured or in an accident where a vehicle needs to be recovered.

“The rules have to be changed concerning the safety car,” he said (via Eurosport). “When I was racing, and afterwards, I was always saying that any time there is an accident there should be a safety car.

“There should not be room for judgement. If someone has to go out to pick up a car stranded on the track, it’s simple.


Villeneuve pictures here in 2010

He went on to point out that many American racing sports currently have a system where as soon as an accident occurs, safety cars or other safety measures are implemented until the track is clear and everyone is as safe as they can be. As it stands, that doesn’t necessarily happen straight away in Formula 1. That’s something Villeneuve and now many others, want changed.

The problem stems from the fact that this isn’t something fans necessarily want. People have complained in the past that safety cars can give an unfair advantage to some racers and that the delay can kill the momentum of a race. This puts the Formula 1 association in a difficult position, one that Villeneuve recognises.

“Now they second-guess themselves. It’s a lose-lose situation,” he said. “Yes, sometimes it does slow the race down a bit, but at least you avoid cases like today, and you avoid the human aspect of having to make a decision.”

Some people have suggested to continue to use a flag system, but Villeneuve isn’t convinced. During his racing years, he said flags were always open to interpretation, since their was no real clue on how much to slow down by.

He went on to say that he was surprised this hasn’t happened before. However, many critics of his comments have said that the reason this hasn’t happened before is because it’s an extremely rare situation and one that is very unlikely to happen. Therefore, they argue that the safety car overhaul he’s suggested isn’t needed.

Others have suggested that you can only make a sport about people driving at incredibly high speeds, so safe.

What do you guys think?

Image sources: Wikimedia, Markus

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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