Ready for Competition Cautions? F1 is considering it

Did you find the Brazilian Grand Prix thrilling? Was the late race safety car periods and un-lapping of cars additive to that excitement? It may have taken a few laps to get the grid sorted but in the end, were you elated with how the bunching up of the field made the finish more exciting?

If so, then you’ve just experienced what NASCAR calls “Competition Cautions” with late-race yellow flags to bunch the field up and make the finish as exciting as can be. If you like that idea and believe F1 should use it too, then you may be in luck according to F1 technical boss Ross Brawn:

“It was an exciting and fascinating re-start which will be analysed very carefully, as the closeness of the pack in the seconds leading up to the green flags resulted in a thrilling spectacle as drivers jockeyed for position and where the slightest advantage proved decisive. Examining the possibility of procedurally recreating those conditions in future is an interesting concept and one that will undoubtedly be explored in the coming period.”

If you were one of the people who enjoyed seeing a lapped car eventually be cycled back onto the lead lap and ultimately into the points and on the podium, then you join Ross and others. He feels that despite the amount of time handed back to the lapped car and artificial bunching up of the grid, F1 would do well to consider this competition caution as a real element in the racing to “spice up the show”.

On the other side of this coin, F1 tends to make mountains out of molehills and if they were to deploy a “competition caution” scheme, they’d most likely make it complicated. Then again, maybe they could find a better way of making the “competition Caution” not so contrived and artificial.

Despite all the attrition, the thing that made Brazil fun to watch wasn’t the safety cars and bunching the field up, it was that the top three teams were racing each other and had Leclerc and Vettel not crashed out of the race, they would have been in contention for the podium as well. Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes all battling for the podium and racing each other hard with Max passing Lewis twice on track. That is what made the race entertaining, not the competition caution concept or in this case, the very real safety car periods that bunched the field.

Much of this leads back to creating a regulation set that allows these cars to race close and competitively with each other while trying to avoid becoming a spec series. That is much easier for me to say than it is for Ross to do but introducing competition cautions along with DRS and HD tires is just adding more constructs to the series and that’s not a good idea in my opinion.

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From this NASCAR fan’s perspective:

The intent of “competition cautions” was to give drivers and pit crews a chance to make adjustments to their setups if there was some reason that they couldn’t do it in practice, such as rain cancelling the practice and washing the track. It was never intended to be anything but that. I don’t see how Formula 1 can be served this way unless they faced similar circumstances. You can’t just throw out random competition cautions into the race. There has to be a legitimate reason for it.

The Captain

Oh the automotive gods no I don’t wanna be right about this. I’m sorry I said anything! Someone cover my eyes and hold me. Whisper to me about how LMP1 used to be.

No, no, not like this.


Or just stop fiddling with the rules every time the other teams catch up to the front runners. Mercedes and Ferrari are like, “Hey FIA. They’re getting close again. Time to spice things up! Here’s some technical developments we’ve made that will take the others years to catch up on. Please implement them.”