Safety car


From the ESPNF1, Steven Lynch blog:

I remember Howden Ganley being told he'd won a Grand Prix - and then everyone looking pretty stupid when it turned out he hadn't. When was this? asked Mark O'Connell from New Zealand
The New Zealander Howden Ganley had his 15 minutes of fame at the Canadian GP in 1973. The race, at Mosport Park near Toronto, was dogged by rain, and actually was the first world championship race in which a pace car was used, after a collision between Francois Cevert and Jody Scheckter partially blocked the track. There was much confusion about the placings, because cars had been diving in and out of the pits to change tyres as the rain came and went. The safety car was supposed to pick up the leader and, to general surprise, took station just ahead of Ganley, who had started near the back of the grid in his Frank Williams-entered Iso-Marlboro. But Ganley wasn't actually in the lead, and the mistake allowed the drivers who were really in front of him in the race to make up almost a lap on the rest of the field as they joined the "snake" behind the safety car. When the safety car pulled in, Ganley drove well to keep the "chasers" at bay for a while, but then a battle developed between Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Oliver, and at the end of the race the Lotus pit celebrated when Fittipaldi crossed the line first. But the chequered flag stayed down, until a group led by Ganley swept by. About three hours later it was agreed that the man in first place had been in the group led by Ganley - but it wasn't him, as he turned out to be a lap behind too. No, the winner was actually Peter Revson, the American in a McLaren, with Fittipaldi second: poor old Ganley ended up sixth. That, mind you, was the one of the best results of his F1 career.

1973 The pace car was used for first time during the Canadian Grand Prix.
The first appearance of the safety car at the British Grand Prix.

In car racing, a safety car is a car which is used to limit speed on a racetrack for safety reasons. Safety cars may be used to keep speed safe in inclement weather while allowing the race to continue, and they are also used to regulate speed in the event of accidents and other incidents on the track. The use of a safety car can be controversial, as it can interfere with the strategy of drivers and racing teams, and some people view safety cars as interference.

As a general rule, the presence of a safety car is indicated with a yellow flag and "SC" board displayed, to alert drivers to the fact that a safety car is on the track and the drivers are in a "caution period," meaning that they need to slow down for safety reasons. Dashboard lights, or in Formula 1 case steering wheel marshaling lights, may also be activated to warn drivers about the safety car. In same racing categories, safety car's driver may indicate that passing is acceptable, usually by flashing a green light.
Mostly in US racing, Safety cars are also known as "pacing cars," because they set a pace for the drivers in the race. A pacing car needs to be driven at a speed which permits optimal performance for the cars on the track, while also reducing the risk of a dangerous incident. Safety car drivers are usually race car drivers, as they have experience with track conditions and they know which speeds are safe. They are typically high-performance cars which have been fitted with special light racks and bold markings to make them highly visible.

Various bodies in international car racing have differing rules about safety cars. For example, in some racing series, making a pit stop is banned during the beginning of the caution period, while in other cases it is permitted. Violating the rules for the caution period can result in penalties or disqualification, so drivers are careful to stay abreast of current rules in the event that a safety car is deployed during a race. In Formula One during 2008 season a pit stop was banned during the beginning of the caution period, but most of the teams strongly oppose to this rule and waned to be changed. For 2009 this rule was changed. It has been agreed in Formula 1 category to minimally revert to the old system, so, the pitlane will stay open for refueling immediately after the deployment of the safety car.

It is expected that, to accompany the revised system for 2009, drivers will need to adhere to a minimum lap time as they drive slowly after deployment of the SC, as has been trialed several times in free practice during year 2008.

It was also agreed that such a rule change could only be implemented if there was an effective way of preventing drivers rushing back to the pits - which could potentially result in them driving at high speed through an accident zone. Tests took place at several races last year (2008) of standard ECU software revisions, which informed drivers during a safety car period of a maximum speed at which they could return to the pits. Drivers will be alerted about the deployment of the Mercedes safety car by the illumination of a yellow cockpit light, and have just five seconds to acknowledge the alarm by pressing an acknowledge button.

The "minimum time system" is possible due to the standard ECU, and GPS positioning.

The new rules are an improvement but not perfect. If at the time of race neutralization driver just past the pits, it will be a problem because he will have to do a full lap. But at least the new rule prevents you losing places or time against your immediate opponents.
Rules about safety car are changed during the later years, and FIA together with FOTA are trying all the time to improve it.

Audi R8, new Safey Car for 2009 DTM racing category
Audi R8, new Safey Car for 2009 DTM racing category
Mercedes GT S, F1 safety car
1996: C 36 AMG
1997: CLK 55 AMG
2000: CL 55 AMG
2001: SL 55 AMG
2003: CLK 55 AMG 
2004: SLK 55 AMG
2006: CLK 63 AMG
2008: SL 63 AMG
2010: SLS AMG
2012 (Belgian GP onwards): SLS AMG GT
2015: GT S
For year 2015 F1 Safety Car is Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S
MotoGP racing in year 2008, BMW M3 is Safety Car
For MotoGP racing in year 2008, BMW M3 is Safety Car
Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe is Winston cup Safety car
Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe is Winston cup Safety car
Chrysler is Australian V8 series Safety Car
Chrysler is Australian V8 series Safety Car





11.1 For each Event the FIA will nominate the following delegates:
- safety delegate ;
- medical delegate ;
- technical delegate ;
- press delegate.
and may nominate :
- a representative of the President of the FIA ;
- an observer ;
- a stewards advisor ;
- a safety car driver ;
- a medical car driver.

40.1 The FIA safety car will be driven by an FIA appointed driver and will carry an FIA observer capable of recognising all the competing cars who is in permanent radio contact with race control.
40.2 30 minutes before the start of the formation lap the safety car will take up position at the front of the grid and remain there until the five minute signal is given. At this point (except under 40.14 below) it will cover a whole lap of the circuit and take up position.
40.3 The safety car may be brought into operation to neutralise a race upon the order of the clerk of the course.
It will be used only if competitors or officials are in immediate physical danger but the circumstances are not such as to necessitate suspending the race.
40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message "SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED" will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal's posts will display waved yellow flags and "SC" boards for the duration of the intervention.
40.5 From this time, any car being driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or which is deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers at any time whilst the safety car is deployed will be reported to the stewards. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the pit lane.
40.6 The safety car will join the track with its orange lights illuminated and will do so regardless of where the race leader is.
40.7 All competing cars must then reduce speed and form up in line behind the safety car no more than ten car lengths apart. In order to ensure that drivers reduce speed sufficiently, from the time at which the "SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED" message is shown on the timing monitors until the time that each car crosses the first safety car line for the first time, drivers must stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU.
With the following exceptions, overtaking is forbidden until the cars reach the first safety car line after the safety car has returned to the pits. Overtaking will only be permitted under the following circumstances:

- if a car is signalled to do so from the safety car;
- under 40.14 below;
- any car entering the pits may pass another car or the safety car remaining on the track after it has crossed the first safety car line;
- any car leaving the pits may be overtaken by another car on the track before it crosses the second safety car line;
- when the safety car is returning to the pits it may be overtaken by cars on the track once it has crossed the first safety car line;
- any car stopping in its designated garage area whilst the safety car is using the pit lane (see 40.10 below) may be overtaken;
- if any car slows with an obvious problem.
40.8 When ordered to do so by the clerk of the course the observer in the car will use a green light to signal to any cars between it and the race leader that they should pass. These cars will continue at reduced speed and without overtaking until they reach the line of cars behind the safety car.
40.9 The safety car shall be used at least until the leader is behind it and all remaining cars are lined up behind him.
Once behind the safety car, the race leader must keep within ten car lengths of it (except under 40.11 below) and all remaining cars must keep the formation as tight as possible.
40.10 Whilst the safety car is in operation, competing cars may enter the pit lane, but may only rejoin the track when the green light at the end of the pit lane is on. It will be on at all times except when the safety car and the line of cars following it are about to pass or are passing the pit exit . A car rejoining the track must proceed at an appropriate speed until it reaches the end of the line of cars behind the safety car.
Under certain circumstances the clerk of the course may ask the safety car to use the pit lane. In these cases, and provided its orange lights remain illuminated, all cars must follow it into the pit lane without overtaking. Any car entering the pit lane under these circumstances may stop at its designated garage area.
40.11 When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message "SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP" will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car's orange lights will be extinguished This will be the signal to the teams and drivers that it will be entering the pit lane at the end of that lap.
At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than ten car lengths behind it.
In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.
As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.
40.12 Each lap completed while the safety car is deployed will be counted as a race lap.
40.13 If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.
40.14 UUnder certainU circumstances the race may be started behind the safety car Uor resumed in accordance with Article 42.5(a). In either case, at the ten minute signal its orange lights will be illuminated, this being the signal to the drivers that the race will be started (or resumed) behind the safety car. At the same time a message confirming this will be displayed on the timing monitorsU.
When the green lights are illuminated the safety car will leave the grid with all cars following in grid order no more than ten car lengths apart. During a race start there will be no formation lap and race will start when the green lights are illuminated.
Overtaking, during the first lap only, is permitted if a car is delayed when leaving its grid position and cars behind cannot avoid passing it without unduly delaying the remainder of the field. In this case, drivers may only overtake to re-establish the original starting order.
Any driver who is delayed leaving the grid may not overtake another moving car if he was stationary after the remainder of the cars had crossed the Line, and must form up at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car. If more than one driver is affected, they must form up at the back of the field in the order they left the grid.
Either of the penalties under Articles 16.3a) or b) will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the Stewards, unnecessarily overtook another car during the first lap.

Back to the top of the page


Books to read


Some useful links:

- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

 - autosport.com, This site is a legend. A bible for racing lovers. News from all around the word. Unfortunately, to get access to all news, interviews and to open the site completely you should be subscribed to Autosport magazine. Anyway, great read.

James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950.

Missed Apex Podcast
Enjoy range of Podcasts and Articles on Motorsport. Every week a Formula one chat on Missed Apex F1 Podcast with F1 journalist Joe Saward and tech Analyst Matthew Somerfield as guests. Also the exciting all electric racing series formula E on eRadio Show and Bike Show Lean Angle Podcast.

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.

Giorgio Piola web site