In response to Abu Dhabi, the FIA replaced the staff in race control, but failed to reform the safety car rules. Supposedly there should only be a little reform that shortens the process before the restart by one lap.
The FIA took its time with its analysis of the controversial safety car phase at the end of the season finale in Abu Dhabi. This raised expectations of the consequences. As a first step, FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced personnel and structural changes. Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas replace Michael Masi as race director, with Herbie Blash as the gray eminence in the backcourt.
There is also a control center in Paris. The video referee in football was the model. The team bosses hope that the doubly secured system will lead to more reliable and plausible decisions.
But that could be a fallacy. People make mistakes no matter what their name is. Especially when you have to make quick decisions. In motorsport you don't have the time you have in football. And what is reliable is always in the eye of the beholder. From a participant's point of view, the quality of a judgment depends on whether one is a victim or a beneficiary.
Five times ended under safety car
The world association still owes a reform of the safety car procedure. Although it is the quiet wish of the teams to complete a race under the green flag, those involved could not agree to write exactly that into the rules.
As things stand today, there will be no abort with a restart if a safety car is used late in the race. Not even if there is a risk of crossing the finish line under yellow.
The FIA gave the teams a statistic according to which only five Grands Prix have ended behind the safety car in the last 20 years. Formula 1 has to be able to live with that, it was said in the group. Instead, they are working on measures to shorten a safety car phase.
The gift of rounding back should remain
There aren't many options. You could save the most time if the lapped drivers dropped behind the field. "You could do that at any time during the safety car phase without jeopardizing safety. There were plans for those who were lapped to drive a lap through the pit lane and then line up again at the back. But that fails because the timekeeping is not able to give everyone who is lapped a lap," explains Aston Martin sporting director Andy Stevenson.
The gift of the round should remain, although many fans find that unfair. This means that rounding back can only begin when the scene of the accident has been cleared. However, the FIA intends to do without an extra lap waiting time in the future, which is normally inserted between the back lap and the restart. This is exactly what Masi had done without in Abu Dhabi and thus provoked a protest from Mercedes.