Sebastian Vettel Critical of Virtual Safety Car Procedures, Cites Loopholes in Software

by Paul Hensby
Sebastian Vettel - Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel believes there are loopholes drivers are exploiting when it comes to the Virtual Safety Car, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver feeling the software being supplied to the teams needs improving.

The German acknowledges everyone is in the same situation when it comes to the system but believes reducing the speed by 40% will be abused by the drivers by shortening the distance they have to run, which could see them driving ‘ridiculous’ lines just to save time.

“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,” Vettel is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.

“So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.

“Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has rejected Vettel’s claims, saying the map they use to track the cars whilst running under VSC conditions updates every fifty metres, and drivers still need to stay below a set time to avoid a penalty.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about, honestly,” said Whiting. “The VSC has a map in the ECU which is 30% slower than a quick lap. Drivers have to follow that lap.

“It’s measured every 50m of travel along the track. It measures where it is relevant to the reference lap and gives you a plus or minus.  Every 50m they are reminded if they are above or below.

“They are allowed to go negative [quicker than the reference time] but as long as they are positive once in each marshalling sector and at the safety car 1 line [it’s OK].  Even if someone does go slow, as long as they get to zero by that point it doesn’t matter.

“If it’s measured every 50m then any advantage you can get for taking a different line on the track is going to be absolutely minimal.  I can sort of see what he’s saying, but the racing line is the optimal one.”

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