GP3 drivers want virtual safety car changes after Spa incidents

Leading GP3 drivers believe changes to the virtual safety car system are needed following a problematic event at Spa last weekend

GP3 drivers want virtual safety car changes after Spa incidents

The virtual safety car was deployed three times during race one in Belgium, where ART Grand Prix driver Esteban Ocon lost his win after picking up a five-second penalty for jumping a restart.

Mercedes junior Ocon reckons virtual safety car mishaps in GP3 stem from having to rely on the trackside boards as opposed to the LED steering wheel display available in GP2 and the more advanced notification system in Formula 1.

"We have to look at the boards around the track and in some place you can't see them," said Ocon, when asked by AUTOSPORT for his thoughts on the system.

"When you're at Eau Rouge for example you can't see them because it's uphill and you can't see what's over the top."

Arden International's Emil Bernstorff benefited from Ocon's race one mishap to pick up his first win of 2015 but agreed with the Frenchman that the system could be tweaked.

"I think it's a good idea in principle," said Bernstorff.

"But the one thing I think is a big problem with it is you can't see the boards from every part of the track so sometimes when the restart went you couldn't see. I think they need more boards."

Ocon's ART team-mate Marvin Kirchhofer believes GP2 has the right solution.

"I think they have a good thing in GP2 because it's on the steering wheel," said Kirchhofer.

The German also expressed concerns about how drivers have found ways to gain time under the virtual safety car.

"Sure you can gain some time under the virtual safety car, everybody knows how to gain time there," said Kirchhofer.

"Maybe in one lap you can gain half a second if you are good."

Virtual safety car guidelines state that teams can give their drivers a 10-to-15-second warning that the safety car period is coming to an end but the drivers must use the boards to judge the moment to restart.

"As there is no EM motorsport marshalling/DRS system on GP3 cars, the drivers can only rely on the track boards/flags for when the VSC period is ending," the GP3 guideline states.

"The only reference and 'official' information for the precise moment when the VSC is ending remains the track panels/flags."

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