In motorsport, a safety car, or a pace car, is an automobile which limits the speed of competing cars or motorcycles on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as an obstruction on the track or bad weather. The aim of the safety car is to enable the clearance of any obstruction under safer conditions, especially for marshals and/or await more favourable track conditions weather-wise.

During a caution period the safety car (which generally consists of an aptly modified high-performance production car) enters the track ahead of the leader. Depending on the regulations in effect, competitors are not normally allowed to pass the safety car or other competitors during a caution period, and the safety car leads the field at a pre-determined safe speed, which may vary by series and circuit. At the end of the caution period, the safety car leaves the track and the competitors resume normal racing. The first reliance on this safety measure occurred with the deployment of a pace car during the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.[1]

Effect

Two Superleague Formula safety cars in the paddock at Silverstone Circuit

The use of a safety car has the effect of bunching competitors together, such as to eliminate any time and distance advantage that a leading driver may have had over the remaining field of competitors. This effect can make racing more competitive upon full race resumption; conversely, it has also contributed to faster leading drivers being negated just rewards for their efforts prior to the caution period.

Subject to the racing regulations in force, it is not uncommon for drivers to be allowed to make pitstops during safety car periods. This situation may provide a strategic advantage since any scheduled refueling, tire change or maintenance may be carried out while other competitors are lapping at lower speed, and the drivers who pit then simply rejoin a queue of cars all running together. During normal racing conditions, such interventions would typically involve losing significant terrain over those drivers that remain on-track.

Another notable effect of safety car periods is that racing cars consume less fuel until full race resumption, which can allow competitors to run longer distances on a tank of fuel than would otherwise have been possible and/or reduce the number of pitstops required for the duration of the race.

Formula One

When required, the F1 safety car will lead the field around the circuit at reduced speed with the race leader immediately following.

Procedure

In Formula One if an accident or inclement weather (typically, heavy rain) prevents normal racing from continuing safely, the Race Director will call for a "safety car" period, which would see marshals wave yellow flags and hold "SC" boards, pending the car in question entering the track. From 2007, all Formula One cars must have LEDs and/or displays fitted to the steering wheel or cockpit, which inform the driver which flags are being waved. A yellow LED is illuminated when the safety car is deployed.

The safety car has both orange and green lights mounted on its roof in the form of a light bar. The green lights are used to signal that it is possible to overtake the safety car; this is only done until the race leader is immediately behind the safety car and at the head of the queue of race cars following.[2]

Bernd Mayländer, the F1 safety car driver since 2000

From 2015, the safety car is not required to wait until all backmarkers have caught back up to the queue. When the safety car is ready to leave the circuit, it will turn off its orange lights to indicate that it will enter the pit lane at the end of the lap. Drivers must continue in formation until they cross the first safety car line, where circuit green lights and flags will indicate they are free to race again.[3]

The safety car is piloted by professional drivers (since 2000, by Bernd Mayländer) on-board high-powered modified vehicles supplied by Mercedes-Benz (and Aston Martin starting with the 2021 season),[4] and must maintain a reasonable speed so as to ensure that the competitors' tyres are as close as possible to operating temperature and their engines do not overheat. The driver of the safety car is accompanied by a co-driver to assist with operations and communications.

For incidents during the first three laps, the safety car also has an advantage over the traditional red flag; with a red flag, it would take a minimum of fifteen minutes to restart the race, and the two-hour limit would not start until the cars were ready for a second formation lap. With regards to the time limit, the race is being scored and the time is also counting while the safety car is on the track, and the race resumes.

History

The first use of a safety car in Formula One is reported to have taken place at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix, where a yellow Porsche 914[5][6] was called for duty following various incidents under treacherous weather conditions. Controversially, on that occasion, it took several hours after the race to figure out the winner and final results since the safety car driver had placed his car in front of the wrong competitor thus causing part of the field to be one lap down incorrectly.[7]

The sport officially introduced safety cars in 1993, after trials were conducted at both the French and British Grands Prix during the preceding 1992 season. Since 1996, as part of promotional arrangements, the main supplier of safety cars has been Mercedes-Benz,[4] with Aston Martin sharing the duties with them from 2021, unlike previous years that have seen cars of different brands being used throughout the season and depending on the track visited (for example, the exotic Lamborghini Countach for the Monaco Grand Prix in the 1980s[6][8] and the Lamborghini Diablo for the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix to the more mundane Fiat Tempra used at the rain-affected 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix[9] and the high performance version of the Opel Vectra used at the infamous 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

From 2007, new procedures were applied for the first time during the Bahrain Grand Prix. The pit lane was closed immediately upon the deployment of the safety car. No car could enter the pits until all cars on the track had formed up in a line behind the safety car, they passed the pit entrance, and the message "pit lane open" was given. A ten-second stop/go penalty (which must be taken when the race is resumed) was imposed on any driver who entered the pit lane before the pit lane open message is given. However, any car which was in the pit entry or pit lane when the safety car was deployed would not incur a penalty.

From 2009, however, this procedure has been dropped, and replaced by software that calculates where a car is on the track and a minimum lap time it should take the car to get to the pits. Cars that enter the pits before this time limit has expired are penalised.

When the safety car and the drivers behind it are on the start/finish straight, there is a red light at the exit of the pit lane. Drivers who go past the red light are disqualified from the race. This has happened to several drivers during the years, such as Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. At the same race a year later, Lewis Hamilton failed to notice the red light and slammed into the back of the car of Kimi Räikkönen, who was waiting at the end of the pit lane alongside Robert Kubica.

From 2010, once cars were lined up behind the safety car, lapped cars were no longer allowed to unlap themselves before the race was restarted.[10] This rule was abandoned from the 2012 season onwards, with cars now allowed to unlap themselves before the race resumes. However, since 2015, the safety car does not need to wait for the backmarkers to catch up with the leading pack before returning to the pits.

The 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix saw the debut of the Aston Martin Vantage as an official Formula One Safety Car. The 2021 Formula One season will have two official safety cars, both the Aston Martin and the Mercedes-AMG GT R that was already used in previous seasons.[11]

List of safety car deployments in Formula One races

This list is updated as of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix (10 October 2021). It does not contain deployments of the Virtual safety car.



Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG safety car
Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG safety car during the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG safety car during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S safety car during the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R safety car during the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix
Aston Martin Vantage safety car
Grand Prix Cause Deployed (lap) Retreated (lap) Number of full laps
1 [12] Canada 1973 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 33 39 5
2 [13] Brazil 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident/Rain 29 38 8
3 [14] United Kingdom 1993 British Grand Prix Stranded car 38 40 1
4 [15] San Marino 1994 San Marino Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
5 [16] Belgium 1995 Belgian Grand Prix Rain 28 33 4
6 [17] Argentina 1996 Argentine Grand Prix Accident 28 33 4
7 [18] Belgium 1996 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 13 18 4
8 [19] Argentina 1997 Argentine Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
9 [20] Belgium 1997 Belgian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 4 3
10 [21] Canada 1998 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
11 [22] Canada 1998 Canadian Grand Prix Debris 15 18 2
12 [21] Canada 1998 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 20 22 1
13 [23] United Kingdom 1998 British Grand Prix Rain 42 49 6
14 [24] Austria 1998 Austrian Grand Prix Two accidents 1 4 2
15 [25] Belgium 1998 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 28 33 4
16 [26][27] Australia 1999 Australian Grand Prix Accident 15 17 1
17 [26][27] Australia 1999 Australian Grand Prix Accident 20 25 4
18 [28] Canada 1999 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
19 [28] Canada 1999 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 3 8 4
20 [28] Canada 1999 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 35 41 5
21 [28] Canada 1999 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 66 NA (Race finished behind SC) 3
22 [29] France 1999 French Grand Prix Stranded car/Rain 25 36 10
23 [30] Europe 1999 European Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
24 [31] Australia 2000 Australian Grand Prix Accident 7 11 3
25 [32] Austria 2000 Austrian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
26 [33] Germany 2000 German Grand Prix Man on track 25 29 3
27 [33] Germany 2000 German Grand Prix Accident 30 32 1
28 [34] Belgium 2000 Belgian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 2 1
29 [35] Italy 2000 Italian Grand Prix Multiple accidents 1 12 11
30 [36] Malaysia 2000 Malaysian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
31 [37] Australia 2001 Australian Grand Prix Accident 5 15 9
32 [38] Malaysia 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix Rain 4 11 6
33 [39] Brazil 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix Stranded car 1 3 1
34 [40] Austria 2001 Austrian Grand Prix Four stranded cars 1 4 2
35 [41] Canada 2001 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 21 24 2
36 [42] Belgium 2001 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 6 7 (After red flag) 1
37 [43] Australia 2002 Australian Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
38 [43] Australia 2002 Australian Grand Prix Accident 9 12 2
39 [44] Austria 2002 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 24 28 3
40 [44] Austria 2002 Austrian Grand Prix Accident 28 37 8
41 [45] Canada 2002 Canadian Grand Prix Stranded car 14 17 2
42 [46] Australia 2003 Australian Grand Prix Two accidents 8 11 2
43 [46] Australia 2003 Australian Grand Prix Stranded car 16 20 3
44 [47] Brazil 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 9 8
45 [47] Brazil 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 18 24 5
46 [47] Brazil 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Three accidents 27 30 2
47 [47] Brazil 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 33 37 3
48 [47] Brazil 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Two accidents 54 NA (Red flag) 2
49 [48] Austria 2003 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 1 5 3
50 [49] United Kingdom 2003 British Grand Prix Debris from car 5 7 1
51 [49] United Kingdom 2003 British Grand Prix Man on track 12 15 2
52 [50] Monaco 2004 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 3 8 4
53 [50] Monaco 2004 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 32 37 4
54 [51] United States 2004 United States Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
55 [51] United States 2004 United States Grand Prix Accident 11 20 8
56 [52] Belgium 2004 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
57 [52] Belgium 2004 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 31 34 2
58 [52] Belgium 2004 Belgian Grand Prix Debris from accident 38 42 3
59 [53] Monaco 2005 Monaco Grand Prix Stranded car 25 29 3
60 [54] Canada 2005 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 46 52 5
61 [55] United Kingdom 2005 British Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
62 [56] Belgium 2005 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 11 14 2
63 [57] Japan 2005 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 1 8 6
64 [58] China 2005 Chinese Grand Prix Loose drain cover 19 25 5
65 [58] China 2005 Chinese Grand Prix Accident 29 35 5
66 [59] Australia 2006 Australian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
67 [60] Australia 2006 Australian Grand Prix Accident 8 10 1
68 [59] Australia 2006 Australian Grand Prix Accident 32 35 2
69 [59] Australia 2006 Australian Grand Prix Accident 36 40 3
70 [61] San Marino 2006 San Marino Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
71 [62] Monaco 2006 Monaco Grand Prix Stranded car 47 49 1
72 [63] United Kingdom 2006 British Grand Prix Accident 2 4 1
73 [64] Canada 2006 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 2 4 1
74 [64] Canada 2006 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 61 64 2
75 [65] United States 2006 United States Grand Prix Two accidents 1 7 5
76 [66] Hungary 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix Accident 26 31 4
77 [67] Turkey 2006 Turkish Grand Prix Stranded car 13 16 2
78 [68] Brazil 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 2 6 3
79 [69] Bahrain 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
80 [70] Canada 2007 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 22 26 3
81 [70][71] Canada 2007 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 26 34 7
82 [70][71] Canada 2007 Canadian Grand Prix Debris from accident 50 54 3
83 [70] Canada 2007 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 55 60 4
84 [72] Europe 2007 European Grand Prix Accidents 3 7 (After red flag) 3
85 [73] Italy 2007 Italian Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
86 [74] Japan 2007 Japanese Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 20 19
87 [74] Japan 2007 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 41 48 6
88 [75] Australia 2008 Australian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
89 [75] Australia 2008 Australian Grand Prix Accident 26 30 3
90 [75] Australia 2008 Australian Grand Prix Accident 44 47 2
91 [76] Spain 2008 Spanish Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
92 [76] Spain 2008 Spanish Grand Prix Accident 22 29 6
93 [77] Turkey 2008 Turkish Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
94 [78] Monaco 2008 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 8 11 2
95 [78] Monaco 2008 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 62 67 4
96 [79][80] Canada 2008 Canadian Grand Prix Stranded car 16 22 5
97 [81] Germany 2008 German Grand Prix Accident 36 42 5
98 [82] Italy 2008 Italian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 3 2
99 [83][84] Singapore 2008 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 14 20 5
100 [83] Singapore 2008 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 46 53 6
101 [85] Brazil 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
102 [86] Australia 2009 Australian Grand Prix Accident 19 24 4
103 [86] Australia 2009 Australian Grand Prix Accident 55 NA (Race finished behind SC) 3
104 [87] Malaysia 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix Rain 31 NA (Red flag) 1
105 [88] China 2009 Chinese Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 8 7
106 [88] China 2009 Chinese Grand Prix Debris from accident 18 22 3
107 [89] Spain 2009 Spanish Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
108 [90] Belgium 2009 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
109 [91] Italy 2009 Italian Grand Prix Accident 53 NA (Race finished behind SC) 1
110 [92] Singapore 2009 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 21 27 5
111 [93] Japan 2009 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
112 [94][95] Brazil 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 1 6 5
113 [96] Australia 2010 Australian Grand Prix Accident 2 5 2
114 [97] China 2010 Chinese Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
115 [97] China 2010 Chinese Grand Prix Debris from accident 22 26 3
116 [98] Monaco 2010 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
117 [98] Monaco 2010 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 31 34 2
118 [98] Monaco 2010 Monaco Grand Prix Loose drain cover 43 46 2
119 [98] Monaco 2010 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 75 NA (Race finished behind SC) 3
120 [99] Europe 2010 European Grand Prix Accident 10 15 4
121 [100][101] United Kingdom 2010 British Grand Prix Debris from car 28 31 2
122 [102] Hungary 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix Debris from car 15 18 2
123 [103] Belgium 2010 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 2 4 1
124 [103] Belgium 2010 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 38 41 2
125 [104] Singapore 2010 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 3 6 2
126 [104] Singapore 2010 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 31 36 4
127 [105] Japan 2010 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
128 [106] South Korea 2010 Korean Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 4 (After red flag) 3
129 [106] South Korea 2010 Korean Grand Prix Rain 4 (Race resumed behind SC) 18 14
130 [107] South Korea 2010 Korean Grand Prix Accident 19 24 4
131 [107] South Korea 2010 Korean Grand Prix Accident 31 35 3
132 [108] Brazil 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 51 56 4
133 [109] United Arab Emirates 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
134 [110] Monaco 2011 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 35 39 3
135 [111] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 6 5
136 [111] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 8 13 4
137 [111] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Rain 20 26 (After red flag) 6
138 [111] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Rain 26 (Race resumed behind SC) 34 8
139 [111] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 37 40 2
140 [112] Canada 2011 Canadian Grand Prix Debris from accident 56 61 4
141 [113][114] Belgium 2011 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 13 17 3
142 [115][116] Italy 2011 Italian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 3
143 [117][118] Singapore 2011 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 30 34 3
144 [119][120] Japan 2011 Japanese Grand Prix Debris from accident 24 28 3
145 [121] South Korea 2011 Korean Grand Prix Accident 17 21 3
146 [122] Australia 2012 Australian Grand Prix Stranded car 37 42 4
147 [123] Malaysia 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix Rain 6 10 (After red flag) 4
148 [123] Malaysia 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix Rain 10 (Race resumed behind SC) 15 5
149 [124] Monaco 2012 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
150 [125] Europe 2012 European Grand Prix Debris from accident 27 34 6
151 [126] Belgium 2012 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
152 [127] Singapore 2012 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 30 32 1
153 [127] Singapore 2012 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 32 42 9
154 [128] Japan 2012 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
155 [129] United Arab Emirates 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Accident 9 15 5
156 [129] United Arab Emirates 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Accident 39 43 3
157 [130] Brazil 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Debris 23 29 5
158 [131] Brazil 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 70 NA (Race finished behind SC) 1
159 [132] Monaco 2013 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 31 39 7
160 [132] Monaco 2013 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 47 50 2
161 [132] Monaco 2013 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 62 67 4
162 [133] United Kingdom 2013 British Grand Prix Debris from car 14 22 7
163 [133] United Kingdom 2013 British Grand Prix Stranded car 41 46 4
164 [134][135] Germany 2013 German Grand Prix Stranded car 23 30 6
165 [136][137] Singapore 2013 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 25 31 5
166 [138] South Korea 2013 Korean Grand Prix Debris 31 37 5
167 [138] South Korea 2013 Korean Grand Prix Vehicle on track 38 41 2
168 [139] United States 2013 United States Grand Prix Accident 1 5 4
169 [140][141] Australia 2014 Australian Grand Prix Debris from car 12 16 3
170 [142] Bahrain 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix Accident 41 48 6
171 [143] Monaco 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
172 [143] Monaco 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 26 32 5
173 [143] Canada 2014 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 1 8 6
174 [144] United Kingdom 2014 British Grand Prix Accident 1 3 (After red flag) 1
175 [145] Germany 2014 German Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
176 [146] Hungary 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Two accidents 9 14 4
177 [146] Hungary 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Accident 23 28 4
178 [147] Singapore 2014 Singapore Grand Prix Debris from accident 31 38 6
179 [148] Japan 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 3 (After red flag) 2
180 [148] Japan 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Rain 3 (Race resumed behind SC) 9 6
181 [148] Japan 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 44 NA (Red flag) 4
182 [149] United States 2014 United States Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
183 [150] Australia 2015 Australian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
184 [151] Malaysia 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Accident 4 7 2
185 [152] China 2015 Chinese Grand Prix Stranded car 54 NA (Race finished behind SC) 2
186 [153] Monaco 2015 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 59 71 11
187 [154] Austria 2015 Austrian Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
188 [155] United Kingdom 2015 British Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
189 [156] Hungary 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix Accident 43 49 5
190 [157] Singapore 2015 Singapore Grand Prix Man on track 37 41 3
191 [158] Russia 2015 Russian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
192 [158] Russia 2015 Russian Grand Prix Accident 12 18 5
193 [159] United States 2015 United States Grand Prix Stranded car 28 33 4
194 [159] United States 2015 United States Grand Prix Accident 43 47 3
195 [160] Mexico 2015 Mexican Grand Prix Accident 53 58 4
196 [161] Australia 2016 Australian Grand Prix Accident 17 20 (After red flag) 2
197 [162] China 2016 Chinese Grand Prix Debris from car 4 10 5
198 [163] Russia 2016 Russian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
199 [164] Monaco 2016 Monaco Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 8 7
200 [165] Austria 2016 Austrian Grand Prix Debris from car 27 32 4
201 [166] United Kingdom 2016 British Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 6 5
202 [167] Mexico 2016 Mexican Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
203 [168] Brazil 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) 7 6
204 [168] Brazil 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 13 20 6
205 [168] Brazil 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Rain 21 (Race resumed behind SC) 32 (After red flag) 11
206 [168] Brazil 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 48 56 7
207 [169] China 2017 Chinese Grand Prix Accident 4 8 3
208 [170] Bahrain 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Accident 16 18 1
209 [171] Russia 2017 Russian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
210 [172] Monaco 2017 Monaco Grand Prix Accident 60 68 7
211 [173] Canada 2017 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
212 [174] Azerbaijan 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Stranded car 12 17 4
213 [174] Azerbaijan 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Debris from car 17 20 2
214 [174] Azerbaijan 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Debris from accident 20 24 (After red flag) 3
215 [175] United Kingdom 2017 British Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
216 [176] Hungary 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix Accident 4 7 2
217 [177] Belgium 2017 Belgian Grand Prix Debris from accident 30 35 4
218 [178] Singapore 2017 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
219 [178] Singapore 2017 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 11 15 3
220 [178] Singapore 2017 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 38 42 3
221 [179] Japan 2017 Japanese Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
222 [180] Brazil 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
223 [181] Australia 2018 Australian Grand Prix Stranded car 29 32 2
224 [182] China 2018 Chinese Grand Prix Debris from accident 31 35 3
225 [183] Azerbaijan 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Two accidents 1 6 4
226 [183] Azerbaijan 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Two accidents 40 48 7
227 [184] Spain 2018 Spanish Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
228 [185] Canada 2018 Canadian Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
229 [186] France 2018 French Grand Prix Accident 1 6 4
230 [187] United Kingdom 2018 British Grand Prix Accident 33 38 4
231 [187] United Kingdom 2018 British Grand Prix Accident 38 42 3
232 [188] Germany 2018 German Grand Prix Accident 52 58 5
232 [189] Belgium 2018 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
233 [190] Italy 2018 Italian Grand Prix Accident 1 3 1
234 [191] Singapore 2018 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
235 [192] Japan 2018 Japanese Grand Prix Debris from accident 3 8 4
236 [193] United Arab Emirates 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
237 [194] Bahrain 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix Two stranded cars 55 NA (Race finished behind SC) 2
238 [195] Spain 2019 Spanish Grand Prix Accident 46 53 6
239 [196] Monaco 2019 Monaco Grand Prix Debris from accident 11 16 4
240 [197] United Kingdom 2019 British Grand Prix Accident 20 25 4
241 [198] Germany 2019 German Grand Prix Accident 2 5 2
242 [198] Germany 2019 German Grand Prix Accident 29 34 4
243 [198] Germany 2019 German Grand Prix Accident 41 46 4
244 [198] Germany 2019 German Grand Prix Accident 57 60 2
245 [199] Belgium 2019 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 1 5 3
246 [200] Singapore 2019 Singapore Grand Prix Debris from accident 34 41 6
247 [200] Singapore 2019 Singapore Grand Prix Stranded car 44 49 4
248 [200] Singapore 2019 Singapore Grand Prix Accident 50 53 2
249 [201] Russia 2019 Russian Grand Prix Accident 2 5 2
250 [201] Russia 2019 Russian Grand Prix Accident 30 34 3
251 [202] Brazil 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Stranded car 54 60 5
252 [202] Brazil 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Accident 66 70 3
253 [203] Austria 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 26 31 4
254 [203] Austria 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 50 55 4
255 [203] Austria 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 55 61 5
256 [204] Styria 2020 Styrian Grand Prix Debris from accident 1 4 2
257 [205] United Kingdom 2020 British Grand Prix Accident 2 6 3
258 [205] United Kingdom 2020 British Grand Prix Accident 13 19 5
259 [206] Belgium 2020 Belgian Grand Prix Accident 11 16 4
260 [207] Italy 2020 Italian Grand Prix Stranded car 20 24 3
261 [207] Italy 2020 Italian Grand Prix Accident 25 28 (After red flag) 2
262 [208] Tuscany 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
263 [208] Tuscany 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Accident 7 10 (After red flag) 2
264 [208] Tuscany 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Accident 45 48 (After red flag) 2
265 [209][210] Russia 2020 Russian Grand Prix Two accidents 1 6 4
266 [211] Germany 2020 Eifel Grand Prix Stranded car 45 51 5
267 [212] Emilia-Romagna 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Accident 51 57 5
268 [213] Bahrain 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Accident 2 9 6
269 [213] Bahrain 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Stranded car 54 NA (Race finished behind SC) 3
270 [214] Bahrain 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix Accident 1 7 5
271 [214] Bahrain 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix Accident 64 68 3
272 [215] United Arab Emirates 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Stranded car 12 14 1
273 [216] Bahrain 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Accident 1 4 2
274 [217] Emilia-Romagna 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Two accidents 2 7 4
275 [218] Portugal 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Accident 2 7 4
276 [219] Spain 2021 Spanish Grand Prix Stranded car 8 11 2
277 [220] Azerbaijan 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Accident 32 36 3
278 [220] Azerbaijan 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Accident 47 49 (After red flag) 1
279 [221] Austria 2021 Austrian Grand Prix Stranded car 1 4 2
280 [222] Hungary 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix Accident 1 2 (After red flag) 1
281 [223] Belgium 2021 Belgian Grand Prix Rain 1 (Race started behind SC) NA (Red flag) 2
282 [224] Italy 2021 Italian Grand Prix Accident 26 32 5

Statistics

These numbers are updated as of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix (10 October 2021).

  • The safety car has been deployed a total of 282 times in 195 Formula One Grands Prix. It has led the field of Formula One cars for at least 1035 full laps.
  • Thirteen Grands Prix have started behind the safety car. Eight have finished behind the safety car.
  • The average number of laps that the safety car leads the field of cars is 3.5, not counting longer deployments due to heavy rain.
  • The most deployments during a season was 21 in 2010. This number was nearly equalled during the 2020 season, with 20 deployments.
  • The most deployments in one race was six during the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. The previous highest number was five during the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix.

List of Formula One safety cars

This list is updated as of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix (10 October 2021).

Grand Prix/Season Car Driver(s) Number of races deployed Number of laps deployed
1973 Canadian Grand Prix[225] Porsche 914 Eppie Wietzes 1 5
1976 Monaco Grand Prix[226] Porsche 911 Turbo 0 0
1981 Monaco Grand Prix[227]
1982 Monaco Grand Prix
1983 Monaco Grand Prix
Lamborghini Countach 0 0
1992 French Grand Prix
1992 British Grand Prix[228]
1993 European Grand Prix[229]
1993 Spanish Grand Prix[230]
1993 French Grand Prix[231]
1993 British Grand Prix[232]
1993 German Grand Prix[233]
1993 Hungarian Grand Prix[234]
1993 Portuguese Grand Prix[235]
1994 Brazilian Grand Prix[236]
Ford Escort RS Cosworth Mark Goddard 1 1
1993 Brazilian Grand Prix[9] Fiat Tempra 16V 1 8
1993 San Marino Grand Prix[237]
1994 San Marino Grand Prix
Opel Vectra Max Angelelli (1994) 1 4
1994 Pacific Grand Prix[238] Porsche 0 0 (only on formation lap)
1994 Japanese Grand Prix[239] Honda Prelude 0 0 (only on formation lap)
1995 Monaco Grand Prix[240]
1996 Argentine Grand Prix[241]
Renault Clio Williams Jean Ragnotti (1995) 1 4
1995 Canadian Grand Prix Lamborghini Diablo 0 0
1995 Belgian Grand Prix[242] Porsche 993 GT2 (911 GT) 1 4
1996-1997 Mercedes C36 AMG Oliver Gavin (1997) 2 8
1997-1998 Mercedes CLK55 AMG Oliver Gavin 5 22
1999-2000 Mercedes CL55 AMG Oliver Gavin (1999)
Bernd Mayländer (2000)
10 53
2001-2002 Mercedes SL 55 AMG Bernd Mayländer
Marcel Fässler (2001, 1 race)
9 40
2003 Mercedes CLK 55 AMG Bernd Mayländer 5 31
2004-2005 Mercedes SLK 55 AMG Bernd Mayländer 9 55
2006-2007 Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Bernd Mayländer 14 79
2008-2009 Mercedes SL 63 AMG Bernd Mayländer 18 85
2010-2014 Mercedes SLS AMG Bernd Mayländer 42 269
2015-2017 Mercedes-AMG GT S Bernd Mayländer 31 158
2018
2019
2020
2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix[243]
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix[244]
2021 Spanish Grand Prix[245]
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix[246]
2021 Styrian Grand Prix[247]
2021 Austrian Grand Prix[248]
2021 Hungarian Grand Prix[249]
2021 Belgian Grand Prix[250]
2021 Italian Grand Prix[251]
Mercedes-AMG GT R Bernd Mayländer 42 204
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix[252]
2021 Monaco Grand Prix[253]
2021 French Grand Prix[254]
2021 British Grand Prix[255]
2021 Dutch Grand Prix[256]
2021 Turkish Grand Prix[257]
Aston Martin Vantage Bernd Mayländer 1 2

Virtual safety car (VSC)

Following an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, which saw driver Jules Bianchi suffer a serious head injury which led to his death, the FIA established an "accident panel" to investigate the dynamics of the accident and ways to minimize the risk of a crash during similar circumstances that do not warrant the deployment of a safety car and cannot be simply managed with yellow flags.

The accident panel recommended the implementation of a "virtual safety car", based on the "slow zone" system used in Le Mans racing. Compared to the former, the safety car does not actually appear on the track; however. On top of not being allowed to overtake under yellow flag conditions in the affected sector, a "VSC" icon would appear trackside and on the drivers' steering displays, obliging drivers to not exceed the posted speed limit, thus resulting in a 35% speed reduction. The system was similar to the Electro-PACER lights used in the Indianapolis 500 races from 1972 until 1978, except that engine control units (ECU) were involved and could enforce speed limits under the current system.

The VSC was tested over the course of the final three races of the 2014 season, during parts of free practice sessions.[258][259] The system was evolved taking into account drivers' feedback and was officially introduced for the 2015 season following ratification by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC).[260] The VSC was officially used for the first time – and for a brief period prior to the deployment of the actual safety car – at the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix, following a 30G crash involving Max Verstappen. The system saw its first extended deployment at the 2015 British Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz Jr.'s power unit failed at Club Corner of the Silverstone Circuit. All drivers must keep their delta times positive at this point.

Formula E

The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid was the safety car of Formula E from the first season to the first two races of the seventh season. For selected races, the Mini Electric will be Formula E's official Safety Car.

The Full Course Yellow condition is the Formula E version of the Virtual Safety Car. In this condition, all marshal posts will wave yellow flags, accompanied by a sign that says "FCY" with a yellow background. This condition is often decided by the Race Director whether it is appropriate to implement it or not. The fans (if they are watching the race on TV) and drivers can hear the Race Director declare the FCY (mainly saying "Attention all teams, attention all teams this is Race Control, Full Course Yellow in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Full Course Yellow, Full Course Yellow). Once the FCY is implemented, all drivers must activate the FCY limiter, which, similar to the pit speed limiter, keeps the car under FCY speeds despite the throttle being flat to the floor. Overtaking is not allowed under FCY conditions, but if a driver does overtake another driver, like when Jean-Éric Vergne overtook António Félix da Costa at the 2019 Rome ePrix, the driver who overtook the other driver can be penalised. For season 6 of Formula E, when there is an FCY period, everyone is no longer allowed to activate Attack Mode. For every minute spent under FCY conditions, 1kWh of energy kept in reserve by the drivers will be subtracted, giving more energy saving tactics to the drivers and teams alike. Like Formula One, Formula E does have a safety car condition, but instead of a Mercedes-AMG GT R as the safety car, from 2014-2021, a BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car was used.[261] Starting with the 2021 Rome ePrix, a Mini Electric will be used for selected races.

Indianapolis 500

The first use of a pace car in automobile racing was at the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911.[1] The officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been selecting a pace car and its driver for the Indy 500 each year since that first race. The first pace car was a Stoddard-Dayton driven by Carl G. Fisher. In recent years Chevrolet models have been chosen as the official pace car, owing to the ability for them to be used at both major automobile races at the Speedway (typically Corvette at the 500 and Impala at the 400). The pace car is selected two months before the race runs, allowing the manufacturer of the selected pace car to produce replicas of that year's car, which sell at a marked premium to collectors and race fans. Pace car replicas are often seen on the streets of Indianapolis weeks before the race is actually held, and a celebrity driver is usually used for the start of the race only.

The Indiana Pacers, a professional basketball team located in Indianapolis, Indiana, is named after a pace car. The legacy of racing and the rich history of the Indy 500 both played a major role in the naming process.

Automakers compete for the prestige of having one of their models selected as the year's pace car for the publicity. In 1971, the move backfired as no automakers stepped up to provide a pace car. Instead, local Indianapolis-area Dodge dealers fulfilled the duty. Eldon Palmer, a local dealer, lost control of the Dodge Challenger pace car and crashed into a photography stand, injuring several people. The blame for the crash was never fully determined, as officials realized that an orange cone (or perhaps an orange flag), which was to identify Palmer's braking point, was accidentally removed.

In the last 50 years, the Pontiac Trans Am, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Ford Mustang are the only models that have been selected as pace cars three or more times.

The pace car leads the field past an accident site at the 2007 Indianapolis 500.

During the IndyCar Series season, however, Johnny Rutherford, Sarah Fisher, and Oriol Servià are the normal drivers of the IRL pace car for all events.[262] The pace car is deployed for debris, collision, or weather reasons. Since 1993, upon the waving of the yellow flag, pit road is closed until the pace car picks up the leader and passes the pit entrance the first time, unless track blockage forces the field to drive through pit lane. Another duty of the pace car is to lead the field around the course on parade laps prior to the start of the race. These increase in speed, allowing for a flying start of the race.

Furthermore, two other rule changes have been implemented. Since 2000, with one lap to go before going back to green, the pace car pulls off the track in turn one rather than in turn four. The current leader of the race is then assigned the task of pacing the field back to the green flag. After much consideration, this rule was added to prevent a situation much like the one that happened in the 1995 Indianapolis 500, when Scott Goodyear passed the pace car going back to green. In 2002, another rule was added. With one lap to go before the green, the pace car waves by all cars (if there are any) between the pace car and the actual leader of the race. This allows for the leader to control the restart without lapped cars being in front of him. It also creates a strategy for cars to gain laps back, loosely resembling the "Lucky dog" rule. However, the cars who get waved around are not allowed to pit until the green flag restarts the race (so they do not get the advantage of getting their lap back AND a free pit stop).

NASCAR

2001 Winston Cup (now NASCAR Cup Series) pace car – a modified 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe

In all NASCAR series, if the caution is out for debris, accident, or inclement weather, the flagman will display the yellow caution flag and the pace car[263] will pull out of the pits and turn on the yellow strobes on top and/or behind the car. When race officials are ready to open pit lane, a green light will come on in the rear window of the safety car. One lap before a green flag, the pace car will shut off its lights to signal drivers to line up double file.

Unlike most series in motorsport, owing to NASCAR's short-track roots, each track usually offers its own safety car, typically from the manufacturer, but in recent years, it has been a local dealer or association of regional dealerships-provided Safety car. Tracks that use Toyota safety cars will use a Toyota Camry Hybrid, while Ford tracks will use a Ford Mustang, while Chevrolet tracks use a Chevrolet Camaro and most Dodge tracks use a Dodge Challenger. If a manufacturer is promoting a new vehicle, they will often use the new car instead of the standard-specification safety car.

For the Truck Series, which races pickup trucks instead of cars, the safety "car" is often a pickup. Tracks affiliated with a local or regional Chevrolet dealership will use a Chevrolet Silverado, while Chrysler dealership-affiliated tracks will use a Ram 1500. Ford-affiliated tracks will often use the F-Series, but Toyota-affiliated tracks are less likely to use the Toyota Tundra, but prefer marketing the Camry Hybrid. However, Ford and Toyota manufacturer sponsored tracks will prefer the Mustang and Camry, respectively, instead of a truck, and occasionally, pickup trucks have been used as pace vehicles for Cup Series and Xfinity races.

Since NASCAR does not allow speedometers or electronic speed limiting devices, the pace car circles the track at pit road speed during the warm-up laps. This allows each driver to note the RPM at which pit road speed is maintained. Drivers exceeding that speed on pit road will be penalized, typically a "drive-through" or "stop and go" penalty, costing them valuable track position.

The pace car for the 2011 Daytona 500, a Chevrolet Camaro.

Since mid-2004, NASCAR official Brett Bodine has driven the vehicle during official race functions during Cup Series races. Other famous NASCAR pace car drivers include Robert "Buster" Auton and Elmo Langley.

At many races, NASCAR has an honorary pace car driver that actually drives a car during the parade laps. Depending on the driver's skill, some drivers are allowed to pace the field right up to the dropping of the green flag. Some famous drivers have been Jay Leno, Richard Hammond, Luke Wilson, Rob Gronkowski, Guy Fieri and many others.

The beneficiary rule (informally known as the "lucky dog" rule) states once the safety car is deployed, the first car not on the lead lap will regain a lap. The Beneficiary will regain his lap once pit road opens. Bodine will signal that car to pass him through radio contact between NASCAR and that team. The free pass car must pit with the lapped cars.

In 2009, NASCAR introduced a new "Double-file restart" rule that lines the field two cars on each row on every restart, similar to the start of the race, instead of lead-lap cars on the outside and lapped cars on the inside. Also, the "wave-around" rule, similar to what is enforced in racing series sanctioned by IndyCar, was adopted to ensure the first car on the restart is the leader, and ensure there are no lapped cars ahead of the leader.

Incidents with safety cars and other course cars

2014 Sprint Unlimited

Before the start of the final segment of the Sprint Cup Series' Sprint Unlimited exhibition race at Daytona, the Chevrolet SS pace car caught fire and stopped off the track, delaying the restart. The fire was believed to have started in a trunk-mounted battery pack powering the lights.[264]

2012 Daytona 500

During a safety car situation on Lap 160 of the 2012 Daytona 500, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya's car had a suspension part failure, and it lost control on turn 3, sharply veering right into a safety truck and jet dryer trailer, causing a massive diesel/jet fuel fire. As it was seen on video, sparks were seen emanating from Montoya's car right before its hard collision with the jet dryer trailer and left driver's side of the truck. Montoya was treated at the infield care center and released. Montoya's report over the radio after the incident was "I left the pits and felt a really weird vibration and I came back in and checked the rear end and said it was okay and I got into the backstraight and we were are going fourth gear but wasn't going that fast. Every time I got on the gas I could feel the rear squeezing. When I was telling the spotter to have a look how the rear was moving the car just turned right." The driver of the Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab, Duane Barnes, was taken to a local hospital for observation and was resting comfortably. He was an employee at Michigan International Speedway, a sister track of Daytona. The tracks often share jet dryer equipment on race weekends to help in case of rain such as the case on Sunday, the original scheduled start time of the race. The entire incident took about two hours to clean up before the last 40 (later extended to 42 due to a Green-white-checkered finish) laps were able to be completed.

NASCAR subsequently added the use of the second safety car (used during race start situations) to protect the last jet dryer in other safety car situations.

2011 6 Hours of Castellet

The 2011 6 Hours of Castellet got off to a controversial start when the pace car did not return to the pits when the green lights came on. The front running LMPs slowed down but some of the GT cars could not react fast enough, resulting in heavy damage to all three GTE Pro class Porsches which caused them to retire. The GTE Am class IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche and GTE Pro JOTA Aston Martin were also caught up in the carnage.[265]

2009 WTCC Pau

An accident occurred during the 2009 FIA WTCC Race of France in Pau, France. A succession of first-lap accidents caused the safety car to be placed on standby, with yellow flags waving on the start-finish section of the track. The safety car driver then proceeded to drive onto the track at slow speed, without official approval,[266] moving across the pit exit line immediately after exiting the pits, instead of confining to the inside of it until the line ended. Race leader Franz Engstler came through the kink on the start-finish straight and was unable to avoid hitting the side of the pace car.[267] Engstler commented "I saw the safety car coming out from the right and realized that I had no chance to brake... I really do not understand why he was going out of the pits".[268] After this incident, the Portuguese Bruno Correia was appointed as the official safety car driver.[269]

2008 Dutch Supercar Challenge Spa

A safety car caused a crash during the 2008 Dutch Supercar Challenge race at Spa Francorchamps. The Seat Leon was released too late, allowing the leading Marcos LM600 to pass while erroneously identifying the Audi TT DTM in 2nd and Mosler MT900R GT3 in 3rd as 'the leading pack.' Race officials immediately realized their mistake, and the safety car was instructed to slow down and let the entire field pass.

As the safety car was exiting turn 11, an approaching Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 drastically reduced its speed in response to the unusually slow safety car. However, a BMW a few seconds behind came around the blind turn at speed, colliding with the Gallardo and safety car. The collision destroyed the Gallardo and sent the BMW into a number of rolls. The safety car was sent off the track into the Armco safety barrier at great speed. In the chaos, a Marcos LM600 coming around turn 11 locked up its brakes and spun into the wet grass on the inside of the track. Sliding back onto the track, it was hit from the side by a BMW Z3. Furthermore, two E46 BMW M3 GTRs were damaged: one on the outside line hit the rear of the Marcos, and the other, on the inside line, slightly damaged its front right. The second M3 continued around the track, while the first slid into the grass before turn 12. The race was stopped, and there were no serious injuries to any of the drivers.

1999 FirstPlus Financial 200

On lap 57, ARCA driver Joe Cooksey ran into the back of the Pontiac Grand Prix pace car driven by Jack Wallace totaling the pace car, to quote Cooksey: "It might be the first time in history the pace car has been wiped out."[270]

1986 Winston 500

Before the start of the race, a 20-year-old fan named Darren Charles Crowder stole the pace car and drove a lap around the track. Local Sherriff's Deputies and track workers then quickly set up a road block at the exit of Turn 4 when it happened. When the fan stopped the pace car, the sheriffs opened the door and pulled him out and was then detained.

1971 Indianapolis 500

The pace car of the 1971 Indianapolis 500, an orange Dodge Challenger driven by local auto dealer Eldon Palmer, crashed at the start of the race. As Palmer drove the car off into the pit lane to let the race cars begin the race, he lost control of the car and crashed into a photographer stand.[271] There were no fatalities, and the number of people reported injured has ranged from 18 to 29.[272]

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External links

Formula One

Indianapolis 500