FIA defends safety car speed after criticism from drivers in Australia

Max Verstappen referred to the car as a “turtle” during the Australian Grand Prix.
FIA defends safety car speed after criticism from drivers in Australia

By Ian Parker, PA

Motorsport’s governing body the FIA has rejected criticism from a number of Formula One drivers over the speed of the Aston Martin safety car.

At the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, reigning world champion Max Verstappen described the green car as a “turtle” as several drivers claimed the car is not as fast as the Mercedes used at a number of other races.

Verstappen complained it was impossible to get enough heat into the tyres of his Red Bull due to the slow speeds of the safety car, which was seen twice in the race following separate incidents involving Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel.

But the FIA has said there is no issue with the performance capabilities of the car.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the governing body said: “In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is, of course, not outright speed, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and officials.

“The safety car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to ‘bunch up’ the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track.”

“The speed of the safety car is therefore generally dictated by race control, and not limited by the capabilities of the safety cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world’s top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-driver.

“The impact of the speed of the safety car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration, as the impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and the circuit.”

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