During the in-laps for yesterday’s second free practice session, the drivers tested a potential new way of handling a safety car incident. The current rules make the SC period a bit of a lottery as the pitlane closes to prevent drivers rushing back to get a free stop. However, if an accident means the safety car has be deployed as a driver approaches his pit stop window, then a stop is necessary, but so is a penalty under the these regulations. However a new system was tested yesterday and received mixed reaction from the pilots.
With each car using a standard ECU now, the FIA along with the TWG have developed some software that will display a target lap time on the drivers’ steering wheel as soon as the safety car joins the track. A message appears on the wheel to which drivers must acknowledge via pressing a button within five seconds, and then the lap time is displayed. However, many drivers feel that is is a distraction from what is happening on-track, particularly at a time when attention is very important as there could be debris, marshals and/or cars out of place on the circuit.
It’s a bit strange because you have to look at your dash quite a lot and at the same time you’re probably going to be passing the incident and everything. But we really need to find something to improve the current thing – it could be a step forward, we will see. Nico Rosberg.
Lewis Hamilton agreed as did Sebasiten Bourdais, the McLaren driver adding that it “still needs a little more work” and Bourdais saying that despite the target time, the car in front of him was traveling too slowly. None of the drivers appeared to be totally dismissive of the idea though, and Kimi Raikkonen was pleased that progress is being made in this area.
I think it could be a good solution because it puts everyone in the same situation and that way, you can’t be penalised just by unfortunate circumstances. Kimi Raikkonen.
Unfortunately, it is going to be a while before any new system can be implemented as the teams must agree unanimously on any changes, it may not even come into effect until next season.