The appearance of the Safety Car elicits a range of emotions, all tempered by the gravity of the circumstances that prompted its deployment. From a fan perspective, it can suddenly create excitement in an otherwise processional race. Likewise, it's a pleasing opportunity for drivers further down the field to gain positions as the whole pack is artificially bunched up.
On the flip side, the race leader will be crestfallen at the sight of yellow flashing lights and SC boards, especially if they've pushed hard to build a gap to their opposition. With that precious margin gone, and tyre temperatures dropping with every lap spent behind the Safety Car, the prospect of a restart on cold tyres and brakes puts them on edge. It's at those moments you can understand why a frustrated Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel cries out: "The Safety Car is too slow!"
But 'slow' is a relative term. For the past 18 years Bernd Maylander has driven the wheels off an evolving cast of Mercedes high-performance road cars, while pacing the field as safely as he can. This year his job has been made easier, thanks to the brand-new AMG GT R that has replaced the GT S. With 585bhp and a top speed of 198mph, this is the most powerful and fastest Safety Car since Mercedes officially started supplying vehicles for F1 in 1996, and closer to the performance envelope of the racing cars it's keeping in check.