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Safety Car usage in F1


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#1 LB

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Posted 03 October 2001 - 19:47

Does anyone know when the Safety car was first used?
I know it was introduced in 1992 but i mean which race was it actually employed for the first time?

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#2 Don Capps

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Posted 03 October 2001 - 21:38

The Canada Grand Prix of 1973 at Mosport Park...

....one of the most confusing races I have ever attended -- and it rained a bunch and I was wet more than I cared to be....

#3 BertlF

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 07:21

Originally posted by Don Capps
The Canada Grand Prix of 1973 at Mosport Park...

....one of the most confusing races I have ever attended -- and it rained a bunch and I was wet more than I cared to be....


AFAIK the safety car was deployed and had no radio connection with the race stewards. The safety car driver (does anyone know who it was?) picked the wrong car as 'leader' therefore the whole leader board was messed up and everybody got totally confused. Several teams showed their drivers the 'P1' board for the leader! The winner (P Revson) had to be 'manually' calcualted after evaluating all the data from lap times and pit stops of nearly every driver.... Even today not everybody is convinced that Peter really won it....

Bert

#4 fines

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 14:48

Originally posted by BertlF
(does anyone know who it was?)

I believe it was Eppie Wietzes. And no, I don't think there's any doubt about Revson's win. In fact, the race director knew exactly whom to show the checker in the end!

#5 Chris Bloom

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 18:52

Why was the safety car used at this event and then not again for another twenty years?

When I first started watching Grand Prix in 1981 races would be stopped if it started to rain heavily or there was a major accdent and split into tow parts with the best aggregate time of both parts being declared the winner. Actually I seem to think Prost won the French GP in 1981 that way which was the first race I watched. This in my opinion was a very confusing sytem as the cars position on the track had nothing to do with their position in the race.

I much prefer the safety car as it still means that what you see on the track is the order of the race. I also liked the fact that after Burtis terrible accident at Spa where they had to stop the race, they didn't resort to the old system of aggregate times they just restarted the cars in the positions they were when the race was stopped. Made for a far more interesting race.

Still I wonder why the safety car took so long to catch on in F1?

Chris

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 19:02

Still I wonder why the safety car took so long to catch on in F1?


Simplicity itself: it was something Americans did, therefore culturally suspect...


As for Revson's victory, I remember thinking that was correct, but all the yahoos around me diverted my attention from the race and my soggy lap chart didn't help matters.

#7 FLB

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 19:08

Alan Henry is still convinced to this day the real winner was Jackie Oliver.

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 October 2001 - 22:42

Originally posted by fines

I believe it was Eppie Wietzes. And no, I don't think there's any doubt about Revson's win. In fact, the race director knew exactly whom to show the checker in the end!


Mike Lang says it was Howden Ganley immediately behind the pace car.:)

#9 Don Capps

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 03:20

This was an 8W puzzler in the January 2000 -- ? -- quiz. Take a look there for the story.

#10 BertlF

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 08:09

Originally posted by Don Capps


Simplicity itself: it was something Americans did, therefore culturally suspect...


I wouldn't call it necessarily 'culturally suspect', I just think that 'Europeans' believed more in the 'fairness' of the sport whereas in America the 'spectacle' was more in the foreground (this is by no means intended to be offensive!).

Since in the old days motor racing in Europe was certainly considered to be gentleman's sport, if driver A has gained an advantage over driver B during the race and the race had to be stopped for any reason, than driver A should continue to have this advantage. Since a re-start of the race, even if the drivers would hold their positions, would eliminate this advantage, they tried to keep it in the time charts, hence added times from heat one and two would determine the final result (look at ski races.....).

However, I must admit that for the audience this could lead to very confusing situations since the race leader in the second heat must not necessarily be the overall leader... Only the race steweards (and not always they themselves....) or race buffs with lap charts ;) would know 'the truth'....

Although I think that the safety car is without a single doubt a good instrument to deal with sudden situations on the track (weather, accidents) and has added considerably to on-track safety, it is not quite 'fair' in terms of the sport itself.

If, like it happened for example in Hockenheim 2000, a driver or a team has gained an advantage over the rest of the field or any particular other driver and something beyond the influence of said driver or team happens and the safety car is deployed, this advantage, for which he and his team has fought hard, is nil and void. Other participants might catch up, change tyres etc. and take advantage of this situation without actively participating in reducing the gap to the leader. OK, some might say now 'tough luck', but it gives me always an uneasy feeling if, like in the aforementioned race, a driver is winning a race which has 'punished' the actual race leader with a safety car deployment for a few laps...

Well, that's just my humble opinion and maybe I'm just too much a believer in 'fairness' and 'sporting spirit'...

Bert

#11 LB

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 17:24

Ok then when was it used for the second time :D..

I meant since the safety car was introduced on a full time basis...

Another quiz outdone by the brains on the Nostalgia forum. BTW was the safety car present during the Indy 500's in the fifties?

#12 Don Capps

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 17:42

Bert,

Interesting thoughts and nice rendition of the European mythology of racing: 'noble' Europeans and 'crude' Americans.;)

Since the end of WW1, American racing has essentially depended upon the entrepreneurial sports model to exist: no customers > no profit > no races > no purse > no racers >> so make it worth their while. Typically American in that it was straight forward and upfront, the more the customers the better the profit and the bigger (and in theory at least) the race purses and so forth. No spectacle, no races. So, customers were considered important. Look at the board track era and you see where the model came into general practice.

The pace car emerged in fits and starts and was brought into full flower not by AAA or USAC, but NASCAR. The pace car used to do exactly what it did in harness racing -- it set the "pace" at the start and then got out of the way. NASCAR borrowed the basic concept from AAA and expanded it over the early days of its existence to where it is today.

At Indy, the pace car was not used in its "safety car" role until the 1970's, caution lights being used until then with restrictions on "improving" position. This was enforced not only by the AAA or USAC stewards, but among the drivers themselves.

The use of pace or safety cars in American racing was a solution to the conditions which faced those racing on relatively short tracks which were ovals to boot. It was a pragmatic response to the need to regulate the cars during a caution period on the track. It had relatively little to do with "spectacle" per se, but a way to manage a safety issue. That it also added to the "show" was not lost on the promoters naturally.

The misuse of the pace car in American racing to create "spectacle" is perhaps way overblown, but there is no reason to doubt that it did occur. However, mythology is always more persistent than fact so only a relatively small number of abuses becomes the myth which morphs into legend which morphs into "fact."

Some years ago, a journalist did an interview at a NASCAR event with Bill France -- apparently Junior, but made to be Senior -- and the topic of the pace car came up. The journo ascribed words to France to the effect of stating that it was a part of the "game." Indeed, the journo attributed that said France stated he could demonstrate that right now: France was said to have removed his watch, tossed it on the track, which resulted in a yellow and the use of the pace car. Wonderful stuff, except that it was all bogus. However, many were convinced this was "true" and this was used for years as an indictment of the American system using pace cars.

The term "fair" is always an interesting one. While European racing seems to have sprung forth as the child of the aristocracy with silver gearshift knobs in their hands, fair was a concept born from the image of sport as a mere diversion or as a wonderfully decadent leisure activity. The plebian Americans, on the other hand, soiled the activity by openly admitting that money was involved. "Starting money" was merely a means to offset some of the expenses of the diversion, but one never openly discussed such vulgar matter -- especially on public. An extreme definition of "fair" was that which gutted British racing for decades -- those baffling and bewildering handicap affairs which truly reflected the insular nature of the British and made even the Americans look like rabid internationalists.

The 1981 French F1 race and the first Detroit F1 race, were both events in which the rather comical practice of running the events which were halted based up the combining the times of the two parts to determine the outcome even if that totally bewildered the spectators, seemed to sum up the cluelessness of those making up the rules as to what the poor dopes in the stands were there for -- to see a race.

Well, Bert, didn't mean this as a way to unload on you and so please accept my apologies if I stepped on your toes. However, I am resigned to the realization that most here and elsewhere still consciously or otherwise still consider much -- if not all -- of American racing as culturally suspect.

#13 Chris Bloom

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 21:53

Originally posted by LB
Ok then when was it used for the second time :D..

I meant since the safety car was introduced on a full time basis...


If my memory serves me correct the Safety car was introduced to F1 in 1993 and was used in the second race of that season in Brazil which was hit by a rain storm. Hill was leading while the pace car was out with Senna in second. Senna took the lead as soon as the safety car went in and won.

The reason the memory of tis race sticks in my mind is that we had a slightly delayed broadcast here is South Africa. The race was to be shown after the evening news. I turned on the TV as during the sports section of the news and guess what! They gave the GP results 2 minutes before they were due to show the whole race on that channel! Since that time, whenever there has been a delayed broadcast I switch off computer/TV/radio until the race broadcast has started.

Getting back to races run in two parts with the best aggregate time being declared the winner. The last such race was Suzuka 1994 which I think also had a safety car period as well.

This was maybe the only time that a aggregate time race actually turned out to be exciting as Damon Hill though ahead on the track was behind Micheal Schumacher on time going into the final lap, Hill however drove the last lap faster than Schumacher and 'overtook' him to win the race.

Chris

#14 fines

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 16:11

Chris, I think your last words are not entirely true, because iirc Hill led from Schu's last pit stop onwards, but it was nonetheless a very fine performance, because Schumacher was on fresh tyres and homing in fast, while Hill had to go flat out on shot tyres, not really knowing how fast he needed to go. It was on this day that I really accepted him as a world class driver, not just a fine bloke!

#15 BertlF

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 16:41

Don,

thanks for yr comments. We're going deep into philosophy of racing here.... Not that I challenge any of your points... I would like to post a more detailled reply but I'm a bit short on time right now. I'll come back soon!

Bert

#16 Chris Bloom

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 16:55

Originally posted by fines
Chris, I think your last words are not entirely true, because iirc Hill led from Schu's last pit stop onwards, but it was nonetheless a very fine performance, because Schumacher was on fresh tyres and homing in fast, while Hill had to go flat out on shot tyres, not really knowing how fast he needed to go. It was on this day that I really accepted him as a world class driver, not just a fine bloke!


I just checked up and indeed I wasn't completely correct. Schumacher didn't need to pass Hill to win and at the start of the last lap it looked like he would be able to finish close enough on the road to take the overall victory.

Chris

#17 schuy

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 17:01

ciao,
to everyone, regarding the aggregate race system.
this system is also used, in moto GP racing, really.
this system has been used, i think, at least twice this year.

ciao,
liran biderman.

#18 Kuwashima

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 04:10

AFAIK the safety car was deployed and had no radio connection with the race stewards. The safety car driver (does anyone know who it was?) picked the wrong car as 'leader' therefore the whole leader board was messed up and everybody got totally confused.


According to Eppie Wietzes himself:

"I was only told what to do by the two way radio, so any confusion that there was came from the control tower. It wasn't down to me!"

So he denies being at fault!! :drunk:

#19 William Dale Jr

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 07:18

I could be wrong about this, but I think that the second time the pace car was brought out was at the Hungaroring in 1992. Mauricio Gugelmin crashed his Jordan and the car ended up in the middle of the circuit. The pace car boards were brought out, but the Jordan was dragged away before the pace car got off the track.

I also have this recollection of a course car, perhaps a pace car, out on the circuit early in the 1990 Canadian GP, but I'm really not sure about that one.

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#20 BertlF

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 15:00

Don,

Thanks again for yr comments. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I’m afraid that we are moving slightly OT into race philosophy itself.

I don’t feel like you stepped on my toes at all neither do I intend to challenge any of your comments. I totally agree with your views on the roots of motor racing in America and Europe. Europeans saw mainly the ‘past time’ and ‘entertainment’ (of the drivers themselves) as the main purpose of racing, in America, since the early days commercialism, like you say, race win -> image win -> increased sales for the automotive industry combined with the aim for profit of race entrepreneurs, stood in the foreground. Obviously this has all changed today, the former ‘gentlemen’s sport’ is heavily commercialised all over the world.

Additionally, European races have been organised mainly by clubs (non-profit organisations) whereas American races were (and are still today) organised by professional race track owners, looking for profit for their investment. AFAIK, most of the European GP’s are still organised by the national automobile clubs, which are – in theory at least – non-profit organisations.

Despite the safety issue, the pace car (in contrast to the safety car) was used (and, I agree on that too, sometimes abused) in America to ‘equalise’ races in order to make winners less predictable and keep the excitement constantly on a high level. I don’t doubt the pragmatic approach to manage safety issues on the relatively short tracks. On the other side, the ‘sporting spirit’ was kept as well by narrowing technical specifications (I’m not very knowledgeable about American races, but AFAIK NASCAR and even CART have very narrow technical specs) for increasing the chances for every driver and rule out domination by one team. To my knowledge, this went even to the point that in some race classes weight penalties are imposed on winners of the previous race to ensure balanced races (something Europeans have also adopted for certain Touring Car classes).

I do admit that adding results of heat 1 and heat 2 can lead to very confusing track situations which does not please the race fan on the grandstand. However, in the spirit of racing and eventually fairness, the pace car (now called ‘safety car’ in F1) still punishes the leader of a race and benefited other drivers which were not able to reduce gaps during the normal race event. This direct influence of ‘on track – during the race’ situations is, in my view, where the use of safety cars – or pace cars - is somewhat doubtful. This might lead in some cases to ‘lucky’ wins and in the worst case, decide championships. In terms of on-track safety of drivers and audience during the race, the safety car is today is obviously unchallenged.

I certainly do not see American racing as ‘culturally suspect’. In the contrary, in many cases I even admire some of the ‘American ways’ to increase competitiveness among the drivers. Like I mentioned before, a lot of race classes have very narrow technical specs, making them almost a ‘one car competition’ in which really the best driver with the best team support in terms of tactics will succeed, regardless any technical inventions/advantages/innovations. This is as well beneficial for the fans. A situation like in F1, where you had in the past domination over relatively long periods by a single team because of clear technical advantages, would never exist in American racing series! A typical example was the ground effect car by Lotus in 1978, where the other competitors never stood a chance and could only win if Lotus messed up….

OK, these are a few comments I wanted to add (I felt an itch to reply to ‘noble’ Europeans and ‘crude’ Americans ;) …). No offence taken by me and no offence intended to anyone…

Bert