Nielsen cautious on introduction of new safety car regulations

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The safety car regulations, introduced for the 2007 season, are under fire by several drivers and teams. Currently, the pitlane is closed for refuelling for a period of time after the safety car's deployment. This resulted in a penalty for several drivers as they were forced to come into the pits in order not to run out of fuel.

During the French Grand Prix weekend at Magny-Cours next weekend, there will be a simulation of a potential new system during the Friday free practice session.

Renault F1 Team's Sporting Manager Steve Nielsen said in the outfit's official podcast: “Currently the pit-lane entry is closed to all cars that want to refuel but if you have a speed limit, that goes away. The idea is that we could control the speed of the car by giving the drivers a target lap time when the safety car is deployed.

“He will get a time displayed on his dash, which he is not to go faster than. They then have five seconds to press a confirm button to show that they’ve seen the signal and from that stage onwards they’re governed by the target lap time. That will ensure that all the cars go at a relatively slow speed."

Although Nielsen sees the benefits of the new regulations, he warns that they don't need to be put into effect too soon. “I don’t think we should rush into anything because what we have now was agreed on the basis that safety should come first. When the safety car comes out it means there must be some sort of incident on the circuit so there’s every reason to slow the cars down.

“The simulation is purely an experiment to demonstrate to the drivers how the system will work. And if that’s successful we will then go on and incorporate it into the rules as a proper regulation. Honestly, I think it’s something that should perhaps be done for 2009.”