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Safety Cars - solving a problem that didn't exist?


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#1 BRG

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:21

We are now sick to death well used to safety cars whenever there is even teh most minor on track incident, in GPs and in other classes, even at Goodwood.

But was the introduction of the safety car as the default solution ever really justified by events? Or was it an unwelcome import from the USA, or the inevitable product of a 'Elf & Safety' obsessed society? In short were there incidents in the past where waved yellows failed to protect marshals? I can't recall many if any.

Now do not misunderstand me. I consider race marshals to be the unsung heroes of the sport and would not want them put at risk. But was there a real risk? Discuss?

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:38

Perhaps they were inspired by the 'more competitive' nature of the racers of the nineties and later?

Seeing a waved yellow and, in particular, responding to it may have become a rare event, thus increasing risks trackside. But there's no doubt in my mind that the 'Safety Cars' come out way more often than they need to.

#3 GMACKIE

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:42

Couldn't agree more, BRG......you had it right before you crossed out "sick to death".

The 'world' seems obsessed with safety and arse-covering. How far must all this go, before everything just grinds to a halt?

#4 uechtel

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:46

I think the context is wrong. The idea was not to use them instead of "local" yellow flags (which we still have), but as an additional option to avoid races to be red flagged. This had been the usual thing until into the nineties with the certainly more "sportingly" but also very spectator-unfriendly consequence of "adding" of lap times. The idea was, that the guy finishing the line first should always be the winner, but of course at the cost of some "lottery" element. Show is more important than fairness...




#5 garoidb

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:51

I think the context is wrong. The idea was not to use them instead of "local" yellow flags (which we still have), but as an additional option to avoid races to be red flagged. This had been the usual thing until into the nineties with the certainly more "sportingly" but also very spectator-unfriendly consequence of "adding" of lap times. The idea was, that the guy finishing the line first should always be the winner, but of course at the cost of some "lottery" element. Show is more important than fairness...


You beat me to it. I too think this, and TV continuity, were the real reasons. There certainly were some two part races, but I don't think it was that frequent. The last one I remember was Suzuka 1994 where Mansell thought he had scored a podium place, having passed Alesi but had forgotten about the combined times. That was in the safety car era, of course.


#6 Kpy

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 20:52

I accept safety cars as a feature of a more responsible attitude to the safety of marshals and drivers, now inextricably linked in my mind with the work of Prof Sid Watkins.

It's a little strange to see this being questioned on the day the Grand Prix world held a minute's silence for him.

Safety cars and proper intervention teams might have led to different outcomes for both Piers Courage and Roger Williamson.

"Arse covering" ?

#7 Barry Boor

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:09

You must remember that safety cars are used for different reasons in different countries.

Whilst I do not want to see marshals being put in danger, there are times when waved yellows would be sufficient to allow the removal of debris or indeed cars, without using a safety car. But these days it is well within the capabilities of electronics wizards to equip every car with a button that, when pressed, would limit the car to a reduced constant speed, thus if something needs to be done, ALL cars would be going at the same speed and thus, gaps between cars would be maintained.

Here, hang about, they've already got one - it's the pit lane speed limit button, so why don't they use it?

Granted there may be situations where a safety car would have to be employed but removing a few bits of debris could be done safely if cars were going slowly.

My point about different countries refers to the U.S.A where a full course yellow for a sweet wrapper on the track is used simply to close the field up to improve the spectacle.

#8 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:17

My point about different countries refers to the U.S.A where a full course yellow for a sweet wrapper on the track is used simply to close the field up to improve the spectacle.


Trite, inaccurate and unworthy.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 24 September 2012 - 06:00.


#9 nicanary

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:36

You must remember that safety cars are used for different reasons in different countries.

Whilst I do not want to see marshals being put in danger, there are times when waved yellows would be sufficient to allow the removal of debris or indeed cars, without using a safety car. But these days it is well within the capabilities of electronics wizards to equip every car with a button that, when pressed, would limit the car to a reduced constant speed, thus if something needs to be done, ALL cars would be going at the same speed and thus, gaps between cars would be maintained.

Here, hang about, they've already got one - it's the pit lane speed limit button, so why don't they use it?

Granted there may be situations where a safety car would have to be employed but removing a few bits of debris could be done safely if cars were going slowly.

My point about different countries refers to the U.S.A where a full course yellow for a sweet wrapper on the track is used simply to close the field up to improve the spectacle.


I came up with the identical solution on another forum, only to be howled down by the majority. Apparently, even the pit-lane speed would be too fast for the marshals to have time to effect the clearing-up. The forum in question is widely frequented by racers, officials and marshals, so I bow to their knowledge.

The point I was trying to make was the same as your own - keeping the gap constant when there is a problem not of the leader's making. It's totally unfair for a driver who's leading by a good margin with two laps to go, and then finds his rivals bunched up behind him, possibly with a less well-worn set of boots. (The leader, that is).

The bigger picture is , as usual, TV schedules. Nobody wants to see anyone injured (or worse), but surely there must be a happy medium?


#10 D-Type

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:36

According to today's commentary they are already part-way to in-car speed limiters, As far as I could make out there is a display that states the maximum permitted speed under safety car conditions, presumably this applies to those closing up from behind or after a pit stop

#11 Tim Murray

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:43

I do have very mixed feelings about this. Obviously marshals should never be subjected to unnecessary risk. However, it does seem that this whole safety car scenario has introduced new risks. Now whenever an incident occurs, drivers know that the safety car will soon be deployed, so they keep going at virtually unabated speed past the incident so as to obtain maximum advantage when they catch up with the safety car. This leads to dangerous situations such as Alonso's crash in the 2003 Brazilian GP when he admitted that he was going flat out past the incident that had caused the safety car deployment and crashed as a result, putting the marshals who were dealing with the first accident into grave danger.

If drivers knew that the safety car would only be deployed when it was absolutely necessary, and if severe penalties were dished out for not slowing sufficiently at an accident scene, I think that marshals would end up a lot safer.

#12 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 21:58

The so called safety cars are way overused. And often only at selected times! Like to close the field up. Mr Beresford most of us will disagree with your comment.
They are ofcourse a desirable thing, with the track 1/2 blocked and workers cleaning up the mess they are needed. Wheras when a car breaks down on the side of the track they are not. That is maximum a stationary yellow
The so called 'professional' racers really are not. Ignoring flags,, and crashing out other cars to cause flags seems part ot their repertoire. Ignoring double yellows should be black flag. No ifs.
Crashing while driving 10/10ths under a safety car, or just at a normal yellow flag should be a holiday to reasses if you are actually competent to race.
Both of which happen regularly, in fact driving like an idiot to catch up under a yellow seems to be the thing to do.
Go to a club or state level meeting and for the most part drivers do behave, even with the influence of the 'heros' we see on TV. I have been called to a stewards enquiry as a witness and see the same thing happening from the professionals out the window as we are sorting out. They seldom get in trouble for it.
This is ofcourse an International problem. What may make sense on an oval seldom makes sense on a road course. But happens with monotonous regularity. As a spectator it is a turn off, and I sometimes turn the TV off!

#13 Vitesse2

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 22:10

If drivers knew that the safety car would only be deployed when it was absolutely necessary, and if severe penalties were dished out for not slowing sufficiently at an accident scene, I think that marshals would end up a lot safer.

Exactly my thoughts, Tim. With pit to car radio and the possibility of in-car limiters - which could presumably be activated for an entire timing zone - it should be fairly easy to enforce. Although against that is the incident in the GP2 race today when a driver whose radio had failed was black flagged and he managed to pass both the black flag and his team holding out a pit board ten times. Not only that, he only stopped because there was a problem with the car - I suspect that may cost him a few thousand dollars ...

And it does seem somewhat ridiculous that an accident at Le Mans brings out a safety car for a whole lap, bunching the field and often causing problems at restarts.

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 22:30

Indeed, restart problems are not infrequent...

Especially in inclement conditions, the bunching of the field and then their release (combined with an anxiety to take advantage of newfound competitiveness) often leads to a fresh 'Safety Car' situation arising immediately.

#15 TimRTC

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 00:51

Not sure why the hatred of safety cars. Surely if cars are automatically slowed the end result is the same anyway?

The problem in F1 is the bizarre unlapping rule that means long delays for minor shunts. At the BTCC today there were a few short SC runs but as soon as the track was clear then racing was resumed.

#16 GMACKIE

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:01

It can lead to an unfair advantage. I witnessed a classic case, where a driver had a lead of around 5 seconds, and when the S/C came off the circuit with one lap to go, the 2nd placed car had caught up.

On the re-start the 2nd car 'fudged' a bit, and managed to get in front before turn 1. He made the car very wide on the final lap, and scored an un-deserved win. :down:

#17 TimRTC

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:43

It can lead to an unfair advantage. I witnessed a classic case, where a driver had a lead of around 5 seconds, and when the S/C came off the circuit with one lap to go, the 2nd placed car had caught up.


True, but this would also happen under a red flag situation and could even happen under double waved yellows if one driver did not slow as much (and except in F1 with its infinitesimally detailed telemetry, it would be really hard to prove).


#18 HeskethBoy

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 02:19

[quote name='TimRTC' date='Sep 24 2012, 10:51' post='5936437']
Not sure why the hatred of safety cars. Surely if cars are automatically slowed the end result is the same anyway?
/quote]

The "bullet-proof" mentality of today's drivers is, to my mind, a contributing factor.
In the past we had drivers pass an incident, then assuming nothing would change, blow by at race speed on the next lap/s- only to find a wrecked car being dragged across the track, or similar. Fastest laps have been set when "double yellows" were displayed.

Additionally, modern carbon-fibre explodes, creating thousands of shards that take ages to clean up in an endeavour to prevent punctures. Consolidating the field into a single train maximises the time that marshals can attend to the clean-up - as opposed to keeping the spacing between cars constant which would hamper the clean-up somewhat. On "street-circuits" there is no easy solution to the dilemma.

Installing an automatic engine management switch was considered years ago - but knocked on the head because of concerns about a car still negotiating a corner elsewhere (away from the incident) where throttle control was essential to maintaining the car's balance through the corner.
Trust me, the matter is being constantly reviewed and considered.
And, yes, television does have an impact - and wouldn't we all whinge if the telecast stopped a few laps before the chequered flag?

#19 TimRTC

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 02:55

And, yes, television does have an impact - and wouldn't we all whinge if the telecast stopped a few laps before the chequered flag?


It does amuse me when people complain about races having to be adapted for television when 90% of the time we only get to see the races because they are televised (I wish I had the time and money to go to every race, but not really possible) and while channels like the BBC might be prepared to run long to show a race, I'm sure that many other channels wouldn't, particularly commercial broadcasters, and F1 would lose a lot of viewers if big chunks of races got missed out if there were red flags.

Of course in events in the UK, like club racing as the OP mentions, time is perhaps an even more important factor, particularly with the harsh curfews imposed on most circuits and I for one would rather see the odd safety car than end up with races at the end of the card being heavily curtailed or even cancelled.



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#20 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 06:15

Additionally, modern carbon-fibre explodes, creating thousands of shards that take ages to clean up in an endeavour to prevent punctures. Consolidating the field into a single train maximises the time that marshals can attend to the clean-up - as opposed to keeping the spacing between cars constant which would hamper the clean-up somewhat. On "street-circuits" there is no easy solution to the dilemma.


Precisely.





#21 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 06:35

Mr Beresford most of us will disagree with your comment.


If that's the case, then let me explain further.

Let's say there is a hot dog wrapper on the track. The first thing it's likely to hit is a car's front wing. In that case, it's entirely possible it could get in to the front flap slot gap. If that happens there is going to be a significant decrease in front downforce and the driver will discover at the next turn that the balance of his car has changed significantly, and will probably push up & in to the wall.

If I saw something on the track, particularly at an oval, I'd be right on to the officials to call a yellow to clear it up.

My concern for the driver's safety vastly outweighs my concern for causing irritation in a few TV viewers.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 24 September 2012 - 07:25.


#22 DogEarred

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:16

If that's the case, then let me explain further.

Let's say there is a hot dog wrapper on the track. The first thing it's likely to hit is a car's front wing. In that case, it's entirely possible it could get in to the front flap slot gap. If that happens there is going to be a significant decrease in front downforce and the driver will discover at the next turn that the balance of his car has changed significantly, and will probably push up & in to the wall.

If I saw something on the track, particularly at an oval, I'd be right on to the officials to call a yellow to clear it up.

My concern for the driver's safety vastly outweighs my concern for causing irritation in a few TV viewers.



I have to agree with that. Especially on fast ovals, with high aero forces acting, a very small sudden change can cause havoc. Witness the kinds of trouble drivers get into running close behind other drivers or in groups. These cars travel at speeds near to or above 200mph for entire laps & there's no room for error. It's a differnt world. Also the red-flagging for even slight rain is for a very good reason.

#23 Allan Lupton

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:38

And, yes, television does have an impact - and wouldn't we all whinge if the telecast stopped a few laps before the chequered flag?

As we did when the BBC cut off their transmission from Zandvoort in 1962 a few laps from the end. They said that the leader had been the same for some time and "BRM had won that race before"

#24 john aston

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:40

Safety cars are a broadly unnnecessary intrusion in most national racing. If the accident is severe, stop the race. If it isn't then yellows are sufficient - provided that non observance is properly punished. Of course marshals shouldn't be endangered but with correct discipline they shouldn't be. Safety car is OTT solution- and I don't buy the 'nothing is too good for our heroic marshals ' shtick; I used to be one and an element of risk is inherent in the job. It is not about avoiding the risk altogether but managing it properly which I think can be done without safety car intervention.

In a GP/NASCAR/CART there is more of a case as the speeds are higher and the races far longer.

I do remember one HSCC race at Oulton Gold Cup being utterly wrecked because of a safety car appearing on lap two- and it stayed there until the end of the race. As it was the feature race for F1 and F 2 cars I was bloody furious- I hadn't driven 3 hours to watch a parade. Why they didn't stop the race, clear the debris and restart was beyond me.I wrote to them and was told the usual blether about safety being absolutely paramount etc- and of course it isn't - if it were nobody would ever be allowed to watch racing . let alone drive a race car at speed...

#25 Roger Clark

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:41

I understand the need to clear on-track and track-side debris quickly and safely. For anybody who didn't, Nigel Beresford makes the point clearly and from great experience. There are, however, two points about which I am not sure.

Firstly, when is it deemed necessary to employ a safety car and when will yellow flags or lights suffice? I'm not saying that safety cars are used too often because I don't know the criteria, but I do accept that safety must be paramount.

Secondly, there is Barry's assertion that some classes of racing use safety cars to close up the field and to make the race more entertaining for the spectator. Does this really happen?

#26 john winfield

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:47

Installing an automatic engine management switch was considered years ago - but knocked on the head because of concerns about a car still negotiating a corner elsewhere (away from the incident) where throttle control was essential to maintaining the car's balance through the corner.
Trust me, the matter is being constantly reviewed and considered.


Hesketh, as Vitesse suggests elsewhere, couldn't a speed limiter device be activated for a specific stretch of the track, shorter than a timing zone if necessary, to slow cars in the incident area? Racing and/or higher speeds would be permissible elsewhere around the track.

I'm trying to remember if safety or pace cars were being considered seriously for Formula 1 before the summer of 1973. I believe the Roger Williamson tragedy at Zandvoort gave impetus to their introduction (in Austria?) and led to a first proper use in Canada. I think the problems at Mosport were a mix of low-tech timing & lap chartery, and basic radio comms. That's how things were then. But didn't Howden Ganley drive well!



#27 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:18

Secondly, there is Barry's assertion that some classes of racing use safety cars to close up the field and to make the race more entertaining for the spectator. Does this really happen?

While acknowledging Nigel's points about ovals, there is certainly a perception of that in IndyCar, especially regarding road and street courses. This perception was further reinforced last year when they introduced a rule requiring double-file restarts on road and street courses. This caused absolute chaos the first few times, although to be fair it has improved over time - possibly under pressure from team owners who were fed up with seeing their cars trashed in restart accidents: IIRC by mid-season there was a concern that Dallara would run out of parts, since they had stopped making replacements as the old chassis were being retired.



Given that the first corner at St Petersburg is nowhere near as tight as (say) La Source, I think it demonstrates that driver discipline (and sense) is essential!

And, again to be fair, they have been much more pragmatic this season: my impression is that there have been fewer full course yellows overall and local yellows have been used more where they might previously have sent out the safety car.

#28 arttidesco

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:40

Trite, inaccurate and unworthy.


Not entirely, IIRC in 2006 Robby Gordon was fined $15,000 and docked 50 Drivers and Owners points for throwing a bit of roll cage padding out the window and creating a full course yellow at Atlanta.

#29 Geza Sury

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:41

But these days it is well within the capabilities of electronics wizards to equip every car with a button that, when pressed, would limit the car to a reduced constant speed, thus if something needs to be done, ALL cars would be going at the same speed and thus, gaps between cars would be maintained.

Here, hang about, they've already got one - it's the pit lane speed limit button, so why don't they use it?

I fully agree with you Barry. Actually there is already a long distance GT and touring car series organized by a Dutch company, which uses a similar system. In case of an accident during the race, they hold out the purple flag, and all cars must slow down to 60 kmh. I would like to see this system in Formula One too, with a higher speed limit of course. I would also ban pit stops during the "purple flag" period to avoid everyone dashing to the pits to change tyres. This "rush our" in the pits is sometimes far more dangerous than passing the yellow flag zone at a slightly reduced speed! (There's no risk that the cars would run out of fuel nowadays.)

#30 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:12

Not entirely, IIRC in 2006 Robby Gordon was fined $15,000 and docked 50 Drivers and Owners points for throwing a bit of roll cage padding out the window and creating a full course yellow at Atlanta.


I'm sure you're right. He's not the first to have done such a thing, and obviously it's irresponsible, reprehensible and inexcusable, but it doesn't provide a reason for abandoning the use of safety cars.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 24 September 2012 - 10:17.


#31 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:15

While acknowledging Nigel's points about ovals, there is certainly a perception of that in IndyCar, especially regarding road and street courses....

....And, again to be fair, they have been much more pragmatic this season: my impression is that there have been fewer full course yellows overall and local yellows have been used more where they might previously have sent out the safety car.


In point of fact two consecutive road races this year were run entirely without yellows, so it is indeed a matter of perception versus reality.

#32 arttidesco

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:22

I'm sure you're right. He's not the first to have done such a thing, and obviously it's irresponsible reprehensible and inexcusable, but it doesn't provide a reason for abandoning the use of safety cars.


On that point I'm inclined to agree with you entirely :up:

Watching yesterday's race was almost fast asleep when the first safety car incident woke me up ! :lol:

Safety cars do seem unfair in some instances but in the long run if a driver runs up front often enough safety car incidents are as likely to work out in favor as often as not. That's the nature of the game.

More worrying than safety cars is how dangerous cars become to drive after safety car periods because of the loss of tyre temperature and brake temperature, seems odd to me that these matters cannot be addressed.

#33 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:48

More worrying than safety cars is how dangerous cars become to drive after safety car periods because of the loss of tyre temperature and brake temperature, seems odd to me that these matters cannot be addressed.


This is especially problematic in Le Mans prototype racing, where it's actually pickup on the tyres which makes the car virtually undriveable in the immediate aftermath of a restart. At least a driver can put energy in to the tyres and brakes to warm them up for a restart, but it's apparently extremely difficult for even the most skilful drivers to clean up the tyres by zig zagging at low speed. This relates most specifically to LMP prototypes. Not a problem on open wheelers.

#34 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:53

In point of fact two consecutive road races this year were run entirely without yellows,

... to general astonishment ...

so it is indeed a matter of perception versus reality.

:)

#35 Spaceframe

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:17

I'm trying to remember if safety or pace cars were being considered seriously for Formula 1 before the summer of 1973. I believe the Roger Williamson tragedy at Zandvoort gave impetus to their introduction (in Austria?) and led to a first proper use in Canada.

It was indeed Roger Willaimson's fatal accident that caused the drivers (led by Denny Hulme) and team owners (headed by Louis Stanley) to call for a pace car in F1, and it was indeed in Austria it was introduced.

It made a very bad impression on the general public that the race went on, while tv-viewers witnessed David Purley's lonely battle to get the still conscious Williamson out of the overturned March. The fire engine couldn't get to the accident as it would'vbe had to drive against the traffic, and the other drivers didn't stop, because they saw a driver next to the crashed car and assumed he already had gotten away from the accident without a scratch and simply assisted in extinguishing the fire in his car. Since neither Williamson nor Purley were regular drivers in F1, not many knew tham that well, which might've contributed to the mistake.

However, this was not the easiest problem complex to explain to the causal viewer, so action was needed. I'll refrain from analysing Louis Stanley's motives, but Hulme had driven past quite a few burning cars - Bandini's, Schlesser's and Courage's and perhaps more - and had first hand experience of tyhe use of pace cars from North American racing.

#36 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:20

Let's not use the NASCAR style of safety car use as the example for why they aren't needed other places.

Indycar in particular has two solid reasons for their frequency, especially on street courses. A marshall was struck by a driver once, and there are insurance issues with people on 'active' race tracks.

#37 TimRTC

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:39

I fully agree with you Barry. Actually there is already a long distance GT and touring car series organized by a Dutch company, which uses a similar system. In case of an accident during the race, they hold out the purple flag, and all cars must slow down to 60 kmh. I would like to see this system in Formula One too, with a higher speed limit of course.


Surely this would be worse as for much of the course, drivers can proceed at a higher speed safely, they just need slowing down to a safe speed at the accident zone. It also means that marshals still have to be aware of cars the whole time, rather than just while the safety car train is passing - indeed with GT and touring cars cruising at 60kph then they would be very quiet and might actually be more dangerous as marshals might simply not hear them coming.

#38 kayemod

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:02

In case of an accident during the race, they hold out the purple flag, and all cars must slow down to 60 kmh. I would like to see this system in Formula One too, with a higher speed limit of course.



Why "A higher speed limit of course" ? We all know that F1 cars don't run too well when held down to low speeds, but anyone who has been in a pit lane when cars are coming past on the limiter will confirm that it seems quite fast enough, especially if you're busy trying to pick debris off the track, I'd say that they should be slowed down more. The F1 pace car driver is clearly driving pretty quickly most of the time, and though it might seem slow to the cars following him, surely it's often too fast for safety of marshals and anyone else on the track. Having said that, I'd agree with those who think that the pace car is often brought out when it isn't entirely necessary, and kept out for too long as well.

#39 Barry Boor

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:10

The last sentence is spot on, especially in the U.S.

And I'm sorry but I really think it is extremely naive to say that the full-course yellow is not used on occasions to bunch up a spread out field.

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#40 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:25

No, especially not in the US. Outside of NASCAR which does use them liberally, safety cars are used in road racing commensurate with the nature of their rules/laws and their tracks. Which don't have near the runoff that the average F1 track does.

I think the safety car is better than having the cars on some sort of electronic limiter because it bunches them up so quite a bit of time is given to the workers with no cars around, and the safety car can slow them even further when running through the incident area.



#41 seldo

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 13:08

It was indeed Roger Willaimson's fatal accident that caused the drivers (led by Denny Hulme) and team owners (headed by Louis Stanley) to call for a pace car in F1, and it was indeed in Austria it was introduced.

It made a very bad impression on the general public that the race went on, while tv-viewers witnessed David Purley's lonely battle to get the still conscious Williamson out of the overturned March. The fire engine couldn't get to the accident as it would'vbe had to drive against the traffic, and the other drivers didn't stop, because they saw a driver next to the crashed car and assumed he already had gotten away from the accident without a scratch and simply assisted in extinguishing the fire in his car. Since neither Williamson nor Purley were regular drivers in F1, not many knew tham that well, which might've contributed to the mistake.

However, this was not the easiest problem complex to explain to the causal viewer, so action was needed. I'll refrain from analysing Louis Stanley's motives, but Hulme had driven past quite a few burning cars - Bandini's, Schlesser's and Courage's and perhaps more - and had first hand experience of tyhe use of pace cars from North American racing.

It's been a long time since I last raced, however in my day, if there was an incident where the driver was trappped in a burning wreck I would have thought that it was incumbent upon the Clerk of Course to call a red flag, which again, in my day meant that you had to actually stop, on the circuit, adjacent to the nearest flaggie. Now, that has since been changed so that now you are supposed to return to the pits at reduced spped, but I'm not sure that is conducive to the original intent of the regs, in that it gave the flaggies almost imediate safe access to the incident.
Some of these old rules wern't all that bad .

#42 TimRTC

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 13:34

It's been a long time since I last raced, however in my day, if there was an incident where the driver was trappped in a burning wreck I would have thought that it was incumbent upon the Clerk of Course to call a red flag, which again, in my day meant that you had to actually stop, on the circuit, adjacent to the nearest flaggie. Now, that has since been changed so that now you are supposed to return to the pits at reduced spped, but I'm not sure that is conducive to the original intent of the regs, in that it gave the flaggies almost imediate safe access to the incident.


I imagine the main reason for this change is that most modern race cars cannot be started by themselves and if the drivers all stopped on the circuit it could take forever to recover them all. Not to mention that these days, fortunately, such incidents are incredibly rare and most red flags are due to more minor issues.

I am not sure if there is a scope in the rules to stop the cars immediately in the event of a severe accident that completely blocked the track, maybe double waved reds?

#43 Allan Lupton

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 16:00

I imagine the main reason for this change is that most modern race cars cannot be started by themselves and if the drivers all stopped on the circuit it could take forever to recover them all.

Not many Grand Prix cars had internal start capability in the 1950s or earlier, but if the Red Flag emergency were severe enough that was the least of the problems.


#44 BRG

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 16:31

Many thoughtful replies, for which thanks.

We should draw a distinction between ovals and road courses. Nobody can expect marshals to run across a 180mph oval to get to a car in the outside wall. But on a road course, a car/cars off on the grass or gravel or tarmac run-off is a different issue. Speed limited cars, as suggested, would reduce the risk surely. A mess like Spa this year or the other year when Coulthard decided to demolish the whole field, call for a race stoppage. Just as happened at Silverstone 1973 when Scheckter ran out of talent.

A further niggle is about drivers these day not attempting to get their cars off the track when they fail. Button at Monza looked like he could have turned off into a gap in the wall, but rolled to a halt on the track. Even Hamilton yesterday could have rolled a lot further up the escape road to save the marshals pushing the car so far and from such an exposed situation. There seem to be almost an attitude amongst drivers that it is OK to stop anywhere and cause a safety car period. Perhaps if the stewards called up the driver and asked them why? Not to impose a penalty, but just make them think a bit......hmm, race drivers thinking, maybe asking too much!

#45 D-Type

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:16

I thought that the red flag could only be used by the clerk of the course and by implication only at the start/finish line as that's where he'd be.

I'll have a look at my [1975] yellow book this evening.

#46 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:20

I thought that the red flag could only be used by the clerk of the course and by implication only at the start/finish line as that's where he'd be.

I'll have a look at my [1975] yellow book this evening.

The Clerk of the Course - or equivalent - is the only one who can order a red flag, but every marshal's post has some - to be waved only when ordered.

#47 alansart

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:26

Rightly or wrongly, I thought the current use of the Safety car in F1 was partly down to TV and finishing the race within the the scheduled time. Red flags could be time consuming so that TV companies would have to adjust there schedules if the race run over time. I think I heard a comment this weekend that no race could last more than 4 hours in total. This was after the stoppage last year in Canada due to the weather.

#48 kayemod

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:26

A further niggle is about drivers these day not attempting to get their cars off the track when they fail.


Or in the case of Schumacher M, deliberately driving onto the track after he'd gone off, Austria nineteen ninety-something, with the intention of stopping the race. The root cause of many of the problems we've discussed comes down to driver indiscipline, something that gets worse with each passing year. There are signs that some are waking up to this and taking belated action I hope it isn't too late.


#49 Raido

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:32

The so called safety cars are way overused. And often only at selected times! Like to close the field up. ((....)) ..happens with monotonous regularity. As a spectator it is a turn off, and I sometimes turn the TV off!


Indeed. A safety car should imho only be deployed if there is an obstacle *on the track*, not somewhere beside the track, and if there isn't one single bit of car sticking out on the asphalt, even if it's right beside the track, it should *stay in*. Now it's way too often used for no good reason, imho. :down: :down:

Yellow flags (or, if necessary, red) and radio warnings to all drivers that there's a yellow out and pit limiter should be beployed before/after the affected corner would be more than enough to deal with the rest than these race-killing holdups. Where's the *racing*?



And while we're at it, all asphalt run-off areas should be banned as well (and replaced with good old sand traps) because they have no place imho in a sport where a racer is supposed to be able to keep it on the track. Now in recent years we see way too many track excursions with no penalty for going off! Any yo-yo can finish a race that way, even if he went off dozens of times. :rolleyes:

Edited by Raido, 24 September 2012 - 17:33.


#50 alansart

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 17:42

I
And while we're at it, all asphalt run-off areas should be banned as well (and replaced with good old sand traps) because they have no place imho in a sport where a racer is supposed to be able to keep it on the track. Now in recent years we see way too many track excursions with no penalty for going off! Any yo-yo can finish a race that way, even if he went off dozens of times. :rolleyes:


I would go back to good old grass. Sand traps stop cars from getting out and can flip them if they go in at the wrong angle.