In the aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix, teams and drivers have agreed on a new procedure for safety car restarts. Fernando Alonso suggested the change during a Friday night F1 drivers’ briefing in Azerbaijan. The modification is designed to prevent drivers from struggling with cold tyres during the early stages of safety car periods. Rather than the safety car leading the field around for most of the lap before switching its lights off, it will now depart 30 seconds ahead of the pack. The leader will then determine the pace of the restart.
An FIA spokesman explained the new model: “This procedure will mean that the safety car will leave the pit lane and then immediately extinguish its lights so that when the field exits the pit lane 30 seconds later, the pace will be dictated by the lead car on the lap to the grid. This updated procedure has been implemented to allow the drivers to manage their tyre temperatures more effectively ahead of the standing restart.”
The hope is that the new procedure will make racing safer and reduce the number of incidents like those seen in Australia. The changes were agreed among teams on Saturday morning, ahead of the Saturday sprint event in Baku.
While this is a temporary measure, the FIA will be looking at permanent solutions beyond this weekend. An FIA spokesperson said that the body would consult with FOM (Formula One Management) and teams to find “‘potential options to update the regulations related to this topic as a permanent solution to this issue.”
The restart procedure times are as follows: 10 minutes signal, 5 minutes signal, 3 minutes signal, 2 minutes (for lapped cars to leave the pit lane and return), 1 minute signal, 15 seconds signal, pit exit green light – the safety car will leave the pit lane with its lights on, lights will be extinguished after one second, and 30 seconds after the safety car has left the pit lane, all drivers leave the pit lane and proceed to the grid without overtaking. This is followed by a standing start procedure.