Pitting under safety car penalty abolished

F1 s governing body the FIA have decided to scrap the penalty drivers received for pitting while the safety car was out, reports indicate. The universally unpopular rule will be abolished for the 2009 season, F1 race director Charlie Whiting told the International Automobile Federation website.

The rule introduced in 2007 was bad, he said.

Following an accident and the deployment of the Safety Car, the pitlane would be closed to prevent drivers speeding round to pit. Under the 2007 rule, they would receive a ten-second stop-go penalty if they pitted to gain an advantage before the pitlane officially opened. Pitting, however, would sometimes be necessary for refuelling, rendering the driver an unfortunate victim of circumstance.

The new replacement rule is designed to continue to ensure safety, but prevent drivers losing out through no fault of their own. Whiting explained:

“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 (electronic control units).

“As soon as that message gets to the car, it will know where it is on the circuit, and it will 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.”

The new rule could result in confusion for TV viewers, but it is hoped that it will be fairer than its predecessor.