The way in which the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the 2022 Italian Grand Prix ended a 2022 sparked controversy for different reasons and complaints among the Formula One fans and media. Several drivers and team principals also expressed their dissatisfaction with how race control managed the final laps of the race and as a result, the Safety Car periods and the use of Virtual Safety Car have become a highly discussed topic in recent days.
More precisely, the main issue is related to the timing of deploying the safety car and also the procedure that has to be respected once the safety car has entered the track, starting with the unlapping of cars which were at least one lap behind the race leader at that stage of the race.
However, the Virtual Safety Car system, introduced in 2015 after the tragic death of Jules Bianchi following to the accident at the Suzuka circuit in the previous season, is also being evaluated for possible changes. According to the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, behind closed doors there have been discussions to reform some aspects of Formula 1 that do not seem to be working at their best. One of these is precisely how the races are managed when certain incidents take place that requite the presence of the Safety Car. In this view, the Virtual Safety Car could in fact be abolished in the future, as Formula 1 may return to the generalized use of the normal Safety Car.
The main reasons for this are to be found in two fundamental points: the greater spectacle that the Safety Car guarantees for the development of the race, given the fact that it brings together all cars and removes the distances between them and the unfair advantage that the Virtual Safety Car offers only to those drivers who are at that moment close to the pit lane and who can therefore benefit from a ‘free’ pit stop unlike their other opponents. Furthermore, the intent is to speed up the procedures that require driver to unlap themselves. Currently, for this to be possible, the group of drivers is required to be compact. The intention is to eliminate this constraint, speeding up the times needed for the Safety Car to leave the track, a solution that seems to be supported by most of the teams.
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