The atmosphere, in Formula one track, is often intense. Drivers race each other with different strategies depending on the expertise of the drivers and the power of their engines. Engineers spend thousands of hours on creating cars that are faster than the light. However, it's not worth the life of a single driver.
Formula one takes "Safety First" literally as when things get foggy and wet on the track, a safety car enters the race forcing all of the passionate drivers to "slow down" and the line behind it.
Since the late 1990s, Safety cars came in all sizes and shapes. Different companies have manufactured them and they have been a great aid to the drivers. Although Safety cars brought some heroic moments to the tracks, they have also come up with little confusion.
Keep reading to find out more about these welcomed.
Bright Porsche leads the way
September 23, 1973, marks one of the most chaotic races of all time, which is The Canadian Grand Prix race at Mosport Park. It was rainy and slippery. On lap 33, Jody Scheckter and François Cevert crashed, yet that wasn't the most significant moment of the race. The historic moment came when Eppie Wietzes drove a yellow Porsche 914 safety car. And just like that, Safety cars were introduced to the F1 tracks. Nevertheless, it wasn't a perfect introduction. Eppie picked up the wrong leading car. As a result, the race results were announced hours after the race due to this confusion.
After the race ended, Eppie defended himself saying "It wasn't my fault; I followed the instructions of the race control room by radio"
Eppie Wietzes and his yellow Porsche incident made the Formula one's officials consider bringing the Safety car into the tracks. The safety car was used on many occasions ever since that date but it wasn't till 1993 when it became an "OFFICIAL" part of the races.
So what's a pace "Safety" car? And what does it do, exactly?
Although the idea of a safety car seems easy to comprehend, there had to be some regulations to ensure it doesn't affect races result or deprive the race leader of his advantage.
Let's look deeper into what happens…
Step by step1-It's getting dangerous in here
In case of bad weather (ex. heavy rain) or an accident, the race director calls for a "Safety car period"
2- Flags and LEDs.
Marshals wave Yellow flags and hold "SC" boards to inform the drivers that the Safety car is coming.
In 2007, FIA decided that all cars must have LEDs to their steering wheels or the cockpit which illuminate yellow when The Safety car is about to enter the track.
3- Stay in line
The safety car has a light bar on its roof, when it turns green, cars can overtake it till the race leader is behind it and when it turns orange, cars must remain behind it information.
4- It's clear.
The race director is the only one who can decide when the "SC" would leave the track. Whenever he found that it's safe to race again, he would give his orders to the safety car driver to turn off its orange lights indicating that the safety car is about to leave the track at the end of the lap. Still, F1 cars can't overtake the safety car till it's completely out the track. Only then, they can fire up their engines again.
Safety cars came a long way since 1973; let's take a look at some of the cars that helped our fellow drivers. Here are a few honorable mentions
From 1981 to 1983, the red Lamborghini Countach took the lead in tough times. Its vivid red colors were remarkable whenever it led the race, some fans wished for a "safety period" occasionally just to take a look at this sexy Italian.
Fiat Tempra.. Senna's unforgettable momentIt's usual for Safety cars to rescue drivers during the race. However, in 1993, The Legendary driver Ayrton Senna called for the help of the safety cars "AFTER" the race.
It all started at the finish line in The Brazilian Grand Prix. Senna came first and while he was about to start celebrating, Brazilian fans decided to start the party on the "track"
The enthusiastic fans broke the ranks and surrounded Senna and before things get out of the hand, a Fiat Tempra safety car came to rescue the champion. Being one of the most charismatic drivers ever, Senna hung out of the window waving to his fans to mark one of the most memorable celebrations in history.
The German era……..Mercedes and safety
Since 1996, Mercedes has been providing F1 with safety cars. Here are some of Mercedes Creations in safety cars
Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG which was used during 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT which was used between 2012-2014
Right now, Mercedes uses a beast for its safety car; it's the 577-horsepower AMG GT. That monster is up for a race not just to give aid. It takes the AMG GT 3.8 seconds for The 0-62mph sprint
It has integrated iPads, radio systems, WLAN hotspots to contact with the race control.
It's fair to say that Mercedes doesn't save a penny when it comes to safety cars.
Behind the WheelA German muscle needs a German brain. And who is better than, The winner of the 24 Hours Nürburgring racing event, Bernd Mayländer?
The 47-year-old driver has been behind the wheels of Mercedes safety cars since 2000. He has only missed one Grand Prix since that time, which was in 2001 Canadian Grand Prix due to his injury. Bernd completed over 700 laps throughout his career in the safety car.
Ironically, one of the most memorable Races Bernd had, was also in Canada. This time in 2011, where has led the race for 28 Laps.