Friday, 22 June 2007

2007 Safety Car Rules

The new safety car regulations raise a lot of questions. Primarily do the benefits outweigh the costs? In my opinion the regulations were introduced without consideration being given to the consequences.

I was glad to see that Chris has raised the issues surrounding the new safety car regulations.

When I first hear about this new regulations, I was slightly confused. I couldn’t understand the logic. I now understand the basis rational – primarily to stop cars rushing back to the pits, once a safety car has been deployed, under potentially hazards, yellow flag conditions.

But it seems ridiculous that drivers are being penalised for pitting whilst the pit lane’s closed, when the alternative is running out of fuel. It sounds like the regulations were introduced without proper consideration of the consequences.

But how can the FIA cure the unfortunate symptom, without reverting back to the old ruling. If you only permit cars that genuinely require fuel to come into the pits, whilst the pit lane is closed, every team will claim they ‘needed fuel’, in order to seek an advantage.

A solution might be that teams are required to disclose to the FIA how much fuel their cars are carrying at the start of each race, and to provide a record of how much fuel actually enters each car during every pit stop. From this data an official can surely assess whether a specific car required fuel or not. Sever penalties should be imposed for a breach of the rules.

But that might result in Sunday races being decided in a dark room after the race, rather than on the race track.

I have to admit that I have always been a fan of the old safety car re-shuffle – so I am slightly biased. I have been a Formula One fan for many years, and have always taken great enjoyment watching the chaos that a safety car deployment causes. Nobody can deny that a safety car deployment shuffles the deck.

I’m going off on a slight tangent – but I have a point. For years, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher dominated Formula One. The Ferrari was so fast and reliable, if M. Schumacher was leading after the first corner, you pretty much knew he would win the race. This level of predictability made fans off, and branded the sport, “boring”. As a fan, I always hoped for rain or a safety car, since it brought unpredictably. Nobody really knew who would be the winners and the losers. Many could argue that that’s meddling. A race should be contested on the track.

Like any professional sport, Formula One is a form of entertainment. Ultimately if the sport becomes ‘boring’, people will stop watching, sponsors will withdraw their cash, and Formula One will shut up shop. The new regulations restrict the level of unpredictability that a safety car deployment can deliver, and therefore reduces the potential entertainment value (for me at least).

I know what many readers might be thinking. The sport can have unpredictability without the likes of a safety car. I would totally agree. The FIA should focus more attention on designing tracks and cars that encourage overtaking. But that in itself is meddling!

1 comment:

F1 Voice said...

It seems that Luca di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari, is also keen to get the safety car rules changed:

“No, I do not like the rules much, for various reasons. I think it is necessary that they be changed.

"I do not like the rule for the Safety Car which turned Montreal into a game of roulette.

"And I do not like the fact that races are not fought properly because of aerodynamic considerations where it is so difficult to overtake.

"I believe that Formula 1, a great international success with new and enthusiastic locations, must quickly confront these subjects and Ferrari will push hard to make it happen.”