Safety First

Whilst our focus has been taken up with the tyre and engine regulations, we have seemingly overlooked another introduction this year: new safety car rules. From now on drivers will not be allowed to pit for fuel from the moment a safety car period is announced until all the cars are lined up behind it and the message ‘Pit Lane Open’ is displayed. This rule seems deliberately designed to take the fun out of safety car periods. Now teams will get a few minutes to decide if it’s worth pitting or not. It will be a calculated affair. There’ll be no more do or die decisions – lone backmarkers deciding to stay out there and see how far up the grid they can get, or brave midfield runners being the only ones to pit and hoping it pays off by the end. Now, I suspect, either everyone will pit or no one will pit. It won’t be a contest of strategies and scheming, but one of science. Also introduced this year is the idea that lapped cars will overtake the safety car and rejoin at the back of the train. Is this good or not? Certainly it frees up the front runners to race with each other rather than battling for the first laps of a restart to overtake slower cars. But I always slightly agree with whoever it is that says blue flags should be banned and the art of lapping cars reintroduced to the sport. If they can’t overtake them, what hope is there that they’ll come close to their real rivals?

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