The multiple incidents at the Australian Grand Prix highlighted issues that drivers were having getting temperatures into their tyres on the way to standing restarts, when they were obliged to initially follow the safety car until it turns its light out.
The subject was discussed at length in Friday’s drivers’ briefing in Baku, and on Saturday morning the FIA canvassed teams before confirming a new procedure.
The safety car will now leave the pitlane 30 seconds before the field and with its lights turned off, giving drivers a much better opportunity to set their own pace, make gaps, and put heat into their tyres.
GPDA director George Russell said the FIA’s response to their concerns was a positive.
“We all had a big chat,” said Russell when asked by Autosport about the changes. “Firstly, all the drivers got together, had a chat following Melbourne.
“I think it was interesting today [in the Baku sprint race on Saturday] we spent two laps behind the VSC and we kept our tyre temps. The safety car comes out and then we’re 20 seconds a lap slower and within one lap, I lost 10 degrees of tyre temp.
“I think finally now the FIA have understood that bringing the safety car out in conditions like this sometimes promotes more incidents, because you lose tyre temperature.
“So that’s the whole rationale behind that sort of rule change. We need to keep on progressing. I think we all hope the FIA is going to be more open to our views and discussions now. Time will only tell.”
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, one of the drivers involved in the restart mayhem in Melbourne, agreed it was a positive reaction by the FIA.
“I think it’s in the right direction,” said the Spaniard. “We asked the FIA, we were quite direct with them yesterday, straight to the point on what we need in order not to have as many crashes as in Australia.
“It seems like they took feedback positively and they acted immediately, which is when it comes to safety and driver concerns exactly what we need from them and it’s a good step and good progress in our collaboration.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris stressed that the tyre temperature issue hasn’t always been appreciated.
“When 20 drivers are behind the wheel, and witnessing how difficult certain situations are when things get cold and tyres get cold, we’re the ones at risk of making us all look like a bunch of idiots, like it happened in Australia,” said Norris.
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