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Schmidt's F1 blog: No back laps under safety car

Formula 1 took three months to ensure that the Abu Dhabi case would not be repeated in the event of a late safety car. Not much has happened apart from a change in personnel. There are a few things that need to be changed in the safety car procedure, says Michael Schmidt.

Was that all? After the controversial end of the 2021 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes called for action. Different rule interpretations and race director Michael Masi were criticized. The FIA ​​promised to act. The new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem took three months to do this.

After such a long analysis, the expectations were high. But then we have only heard about personnel changes so far. Michael Masi loses his office. Instead, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will share the job of race director and will have the support of the gray eminence Herbie Blash.

There is also a kind of video referee in a command center in Paris equipped with the best surveillance technology. In order to protect the referees, the radio communication between teams and race control will no longer be broadcast on TV. And there are certain rules of conduct.

Abu Dhabi without consequences

Is that all? The personnel shift may give Mercedes satisfaction, but it is no guarantee that everything will get better. Masi's successors are only human. Well, when more eyes are looking, fewer mistakes happen. But if any team leader thinks that makes decisions more consistent and reliable, then he's dreaming.

What is consistent and reliable is in the eye of the beholder. Whoever is directly involved, like the teams, cannot judge that objectively. If you're a victim, it was wrong. If you benefit from it, the same decision suddenly makes sense. That's how I experienced it in 40 years of Formula 1.

I would be surprised if the circus people suddenly change. This is a business about winning. You take what you can get. Also a gift penalty meter.

It would be much more important to revise the safety car procedure. First you should be honest about what you want. No end of race under yellow? ok why not But there is nothing in the last version of the Sporting Regulations either. It remains an unspoken wish of the rights holders and the teams.

Nonsense with the second half of the season

Nothing else changes either. They wanted to shorten the safety car phases. That would be easy to do if you finally stop with the nonsense that the cars are allowed to lap back. This only costs time because you can only start after the scene of the accident has been cleared. Otherwise the marshals are exposed to the risk that participants will try to catch up with the field at race pace.

Why not just let everyone who has been lapped pull out so that they can line up again at the end of the field.This process is possible at any time during the safety car phase because it can be limited locally. Preferably far away from the scene of the accident.

That's not possible, they say, because then the timekeeping will have a problem. How do you then give the lap to those who have been lapped? The question should be better: Why do you give those who have been lapped a lap at all?

No repairs in case of cancellation

The same applies in the event of a race interruption. If something is unfair, it's that. There are reasons why a driver is lapped. Because he was too slow, had an accident or stayed in the pits for a long time. Why should he be rewarded with a round gift?

I also share the opinion of Lando Norris, who complains that if there is a red flag, anyone can change tires or repair the car. That's not fair either. Tire changes and repairs should be allowed, but if you change something on the car during the break, you should drive out of the pit lane at the restart.

You don't punish the drivers who need four new tires because of damage. If that had happened at normal racing speed, they would have had to pit and lost time.


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