FIA explore yellow-flag speed control after Bianchi crash

The FIA is considering a new approach to yellow flag procedures with regards to the speed cars are traveling during these caution zones. The Japanese Grand Prix saw Marussia driver, Jules Bianchi, tragically spear off the circuit in a double-yellow zone only to collide with a track vehicle attending to a stricken car.

The FIA reckon a first move might be reviewing way sin order to ensure that cars have slowed to a speed that is considered safe in zones that are under caution.

Some have argued that the WEC Le Mans method of a go slow zone or “code 60” might be a good option but FIA race director, Charlie Whiting, isn’t too sure as he feels the system could possess its own dangers speeding to the Code 60 zone etc.

“One thing that would worry me slightly is the fact you can see how engineers and drivers push limits for pit lane speed limit, they would want to be braking at the last possible minute and as hard as possible to get down to the speed limit at the precise place – that is the nature of F1.

“The delta would be the same for everybody. They know what to do, they have same reference map so all have to slow down at the same time.”

It appears that the FIA will be working with the teams to devise a plan that removes the option from the driver in favor of a system that would slow all the cars down remotely under FIA control. Whiting said:

“One of the most important things for us to learn here is that it is probably better to take the decision to slow down away from drivers.

“It is better to try to put in place a system where it is much clearer to everybody how much we think cars should slow down in similar circumstances.

“That is what we are working on, starting tomorrow morning, with a meeting with all the teams to discuss exactly that.

“We want a way of trying to impose a speed limit – it probably won’t be a speed limit as such, but there will be a way of controlling speed with complete certainty and complete clarity.”

In effect, a “make slow” button that could possibly be pressed which would instantly reduce the speed of all the cars on track. It’s like sticking nanites into V.I.K.I. in I, Robot and standing on the hill in what used to be Lake Michigan.

Back in 2002, the FIA allowed for two-way telemetry to be used. This allowed engineers to change settings on the car during the race. This was banned after a year but they did learn a lot about what could and couldn’t be achieved with antenna surrounding the track etc. Perhaps this technology could be used as a safety protocol in yellow-flag situations?

F1 veteran Gary Anderson reckons the drivers can press a button-much like a pit lane limiter-when they enter a yellow flag zone but the FIA are looking at taking that control away from a driver. After all, going “slow” to one driver may not be the same speed as “going slow” is to another driver. Reaction time could be varied if the driver is responsible for pressing a button.

“The cars have electronic speed limiters. They are very effective and are used for pit speed control. We have seen races with 60 or more pitstops without anyone being caught for speeding. Surely it’s possible for this system to be adapted for use on the track…

A yellow flag means slow down. As a driver enters the yellow flag zone, he presses the track speed button on the steering wheel, which means the maximum speed – which I suggest is set at 100km/h to begin with – is controlled by the electronics.”

What do you think makes sense for slowing cars down in yellow-flag caution zones?


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