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New safety car rules for 2009 27 Jan 2009

The safety car leads the field.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 28 September 2008 Charlie Whiting (GBR) FIA Delegate and Herbie Blash (GBR) FIA Delegate in the FIA Safety Car.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 leads behind the Safety Car.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 2 November 2008

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has confirmed that the safety car rules have been altered for the 2009 season. The previous regulations, which saw the pit lane closed for a period of time after the safety car’s deployment, came under intense scrutiny last year after several drivers were penalised for pitting to avoid running out of fuel.

The revisions for 2009, however, will see the pit lane remain open at all times. But to prevent drivers rushing back to the pits (the reason for the original rule change), a new electronic system, which uses the standard engine control unit (ECU), will be implemented.

“The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we’ve gone back to the 2006 regulations,” Whiting explained. “The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits. When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a “safety car” mode on their ECUs.

“As soon as that message gets to the car, it’ll know where it is on the circuit, and it’ll calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits. The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard.

“If you remember, the reason we closed the pit entry was to remove the incentive for the driver to come back to his pit quickly. That’s gone now, as you won’t be able to reach the pits any quicker than your dashboard display allows you to.”

The teams have already sampled a version of the new system after taking part in a trial, which was held during the 2008 French Grand Prix weekend.