FIA approves safety car rules shake-up
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, October 18th 2006, 15:25 GMT|
The FIA has approved a major shake-up of the safety car rules for next season after a push from drivers who were increasingly unhappy about the interference of backmarkers at restarts.
As autosport.com revealed in June, F1 drivers spoke to the FIA at the United States Grand Prix to plead for Formula One to copy American racing's example of change the rules regarding restarts.
They wanted the sport to adopt the policy from Champ Car and the Indy Racing League of allowing backmarkers to be waved past lead-lap cars when the safety car is called out. This ensures the field is in race order to allow battles to resume immediately once the safety car is called in.
The push had been prompted after Kimi Raikkonen's chances of fighting Fernando Alonso for the lead at the Canadian Grand Prix following a safety car restart were dashed when he lost time trapped behind backmarkers Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld.
Giancarlo Fisichella had told autosport.com at Indianapolis that he was in no doubt the rule had to be altered.
"I think it is time to change it," he said. "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."
The drivers push led to renewed dialogue between the FIA and the teams, and finally resulted in the FIA World Council approving new rules from the start of next season on Wednesday.
A statement issued by the FIA said: "When the safety car is deployed no car is permitted to enter the pits until all are bunched up behind the safety car. This is to remove all incentive for cars to be driven quickly back to the pits for refuelling when the safety car is deployed.
"Before the safety car returns to the pits any lapped car between cars running on the lead lap must pass those cars and the safety car. It may then proceed around the track to take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car."