Max Verstappen recently criticized the safety car for being like a turtle. The Safety Car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle, ”Verstappen said. “Unbelievable. With that car, to drive 140 on the back straight, where there’s not a damaged car anymore, I don’t understand why we have to drive so slow.
“We have to invest. For sure, the Mercedes Safety Car is faster because of the extra aero, the Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip because our tires were stone cold. He thinks this is horrible and that some things need to change.
The question is whether there will be any changes. “We went into the last corner, I could see Charles understeering. So I’m like ‘OK, I’ll back off a bit more’ and I had a better line. It’s pretty terrible, the way we’re driving behind the Safety Car at the moment”.
But the FIA did not wait long for an answer, so they released a statement: “In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is of course not outright speed but the safety of the drivers, marshalls and officials.
The Safety Car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to ‘bunch up’ the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track.
The FIA has stood up in defense of the safety car, and they believe that speed is not the primary thing in a safety car at all. Safety is, as before, the most important thing. The speed of the Safety Car is therefore generally dictated by race control, and not limited by the capabilities of the Safety Cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world’s top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-driver.
“The impact of the speed of the Safety Car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration, as the impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and circuit”.