Drivers want safety car rules changed
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, June 30th 2006, 05:49 GMT|
Leading drivers plan to ask for a revamp of Formula One's safety car rules when they meet with the FIA at Friday's drivers' briefing, autosport.com has learned.
Following complaints about the interference of backmarkers at safety car restarts in recent events, some drivers think the time has come for F1 to take a leaf out of American racing's book and change the rules.
In particular, they believe the sport should adopt the policy from Champ Car and the Indy Racing League of allowing backmarkers to be waved through past lead-lap cars when the safety car is called out in the closing stages. This ensures the field is in race order to allow a final battle to the chequered flag.
At other times of the race, the cars form up in two rows, depending if they are on the lead lap or are a backmarker. This makes it easier for cars to fight for position.
These rules would have prevented the kind of situation that took place in Canada last weekend, when Kimi Raikkonen's chances of fighting Fernando Alonso for the lead were scuppered after the safety car restart because he lost time trapped behind backmarkers Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld.
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella has revealed that he will bring the matter up for discussion in the FIA drivers' briefing, after feeling that the current safety car rules are no longer satisfactory.
"I think it is time to change it," he told autosport.com. "In my case (in Canada) I was behind six or seven cars who were being lapped. Michael [Schumacher] was third and he was far, far away from me. I was fourth and [Felipe] Massa was fifth, just behind me.
"That was a very big disadvantage for me. It is not good, and I think we have to do something for the future."
When asked whether the matter had been discussed between the drivers, he said: "Not yet, but I am sure it will be on Friday."
Williams driver Mark Webber is confident the rules will be changed ultimately, but he believes it will take some time to sort out the regulations.
"I think they do it in American racing, and maybe we could learn from them," he said. "I think it will happen eventually, but I don't know when.
"The subject has been touched on before. I think it was either last year, or the year before, that Charlie [Whiting, FIA technical delegate] spoke about it with the drivers. I think we have seen plenty of times under the safety car that there will be two backmarkers between the leader and second place.
"It will probably get changed, but not for this year. We have got to sort out all the practicalities of waving cars through and all that sort of stuff, because it has got to be done right.
"When you go back to racing, you want to make sure the field is in order. It is not as easy as you think."
Not all drivers are so keen for change, however.
David Coulthard, who is a director of the GPDA, said about the possibility of new safety car rules: "If everyone thinks it is a good idea, then fine. I think it is what it is. I need to give it a bit more thought.
"You win from a safety car sometimes and you lose from a safety car sometimes. Would you like to have everyone closed up behind one slow car that has to let you by, or would you rather be 15 seconds behind the leader? You can't have it your way all the time."