The FIA has released a statement in which it has declared that speed is not “the primary function” of the Formula 1 Safety Car.
The clarification comes days after Max Verstappen criticised the speed of the Aston Martin Safety Car at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Aston Martin Vantage has been used as a Safety Car since the start of the 2021 season, rotating with Mercedes, who was F1’s sole Safety Car supplier since 1996.
However, Verstappen condemned Aston Martin’s car, comparing it to a turtle while stating the Mercedes car “is faster because of the extra aero”.
Drivers have long complained about the speed of the Safety Car during grands prix, as they attempt to generate tyre and brake temperatures at a slower pace.
But following Verstappen’s criticism, the FIA has opted to publish a statement in which it says that the impact the speed of the Safety Car has on the F1 pack is a secondary consideration.
“In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is, of course, not outright speed, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and officials,” the FIA said.
“The Safety Car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to ‘bunch up’ the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track.
“The speed of the Safety Car is therefore generally dictated by Race Control, and not limited by the capabilities of the Safety Cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world’s top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-driver.
“The impact of the speed of the Safety Car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration, as the impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and the circuit.”