Formula 1 Racing

FIA set to modify red flag restart procedure for Baku F1 sprint

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

The change is intended to give drivers a better chance of getting heat into their tyres in an attempt to avoid the sort of chaos that was seen after restarts at the last race in Australia.

Following the multiple restart incidents in Melbourne, drivers complained that they had struggled to get their tyres up to temperature for restarts while following the safety car for the initial part of the pre-restart procedure.

The topic was discussed at length at Friday evening’s drivers’ briefing, given the obvious concerns about a repeat in Baku, a track well-known for red flag stoppages.

The problem is that the FIA cannot change its own sporting regulations in the course of a race weekend.

However, based on a suggestion originally put forward by Fernando Alonso, a way has been found to address the tyre temperature issue within the current regulations.

For a resumption, the rules say: “The sprint session or the race will be resumed behind the safety car when the green lights are illuminated, and the safety car leaves the pit lane. Drivers must follow the safety car no more than ten car lengths apart.”

Alonso suggested that the safety car leaves 30 seconds early and that the race leader then leads the field out onto the track and sets the pace, in effect creating a gap that gives everyone more freedom to warm up their tyres rather than having the pace dictated.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

The FIA wrote to teams this morning asking for feedback on the possibility of this procedure, which won’t require an actual rule change, being used from today’s Baku sprint onwards.

A final call will be made after that feedback has been studied.

The rules continue: “When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car, the message ‘STANDING START’ will be sent to all competitors using the official messaging system, all FIA light panels will display ‘SS’ and the safety car’s orange lights will be extinguished.

“This will be the signal to the competitors and drivers that the safety car will be entering the pit lane at the end of that lap.

“At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than 10 car lengths behind it.”

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