During the French Grand Prix weekend at Magny-Cours the drivers tested a new Safety Car procedure for the very first time. BMW Sauber F1 Team driver, Robert Kubica, is not yet convinced by the new concept, and explains one grey area.
The current procedure during Safety Car phases has already caused much discussion this season. As it stands, the pit lane is closed as soon as the Safety Car is deployed, and only opened again once the field has been neutralised. However, if a driver is forced to stop for fuel during this period, he must reckon on a drive-through penalty. A situation like this cost Nick Heidfeld valuable time at the Spanish Grand Prix.
"Of course the safety car rule now, with the pit lane closure, is a big penalty for those drivers who are just about to pit, and it can screw up your race," says Kubica. "It has happened already this year and in the end it can ruin your whole championship."
Robert is not alone in his concern. Consequently the FIA tested a new system in Friday's free practice for the French GP. Should the Safety Car take to the track, the drivers have five seconds, in which to push a button on the steering wheel. This activates an electronic programme, which allows the drivers to continue provided their lap times are within a defined range as shown on their display.
"I think it is too complicated," says Robert, "and I don't know whether or not we'll use it in the end. What happens if someone notices the safety car 200 metres later, meaning he activates [the speed limiter] a bit later, and therefore gains an advantage?"
However, Robert also knows that it is difficult to find a perfect solution for everyone. "It's quite a tricky situation. There are positive and negative sides to different solutions, so in the end it will never be 100% perfect, but I think we can make it more perfect than it is now."Source BMW Sauber