FIA says Formula 1's virtual safety car system needs more work

The FIA says it is still too early to know whether its 'virtual safety car' plan will be ready for the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season

FIA says Formula 1's virtual safety car system needs more work

The new system, which is being introduced in response to lessons learned from Jules Bianchi's Japanese Grand Prix accident, was tested in practice in both the United States and Brazil.

But despite encouraging results and positive feedback about the first runs, the FIA is well aware that the system needs to be perfect before it can be brought into action.

When asked whether the system was on course to be introduced for the start of 2015, an FIA spokesman said: "We're not sure yet. The tests were very positive, but more development is needed."

One of the biggest issues that emerged in the tests was drivers finding it hard to concentrate on keeping below a specific delta time.

The requirement is to drive 35 per cent slower than a normal laptime.

Consideration is being given to an audible warning system, which will prevent the need for drivers to focus too much on their steering wheel display.

A revamped system tested at Interlagos, where timing loops were spaced out more and there were 10-second countdowns, improved matters.

"The drivers only had to be 'positive' to the reference lap once between light panels [the FIA's 'marshalling sectors'] and once we decided the virtual safety car should end, the drivers were shown a 10-second countdown on the light panels," added the spokesman.

"It all seemed to work quite well."

NO REPLACEMENT FOR ACTUAL SAFETY CAR

Although progress with the virtual safety car could allow it to be used regularly for race incidents, the FIA has ruled out the prospect of it becoming a permanent replacement for the actual safety car.

The FIA spokesman said: "We very much doubt the virtual safety car will ever take the place of the safety car.

"There are times when the field needs to be led at a different speed or different routes need to be taken. Only the safety car could do this."

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