‘virtual safety car’ system to be tested in Austin at USGP

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The FIA will test a new “virtual Safety car” feature at the USGP in Austin this weekend according to the BBC. The system will measure car speed in yellow-flag zones and a dashboard warning will illuminate to assist the driver in the process.

The FIA are looking for a 35% reduction in lap speed in dry weather conditions and drivers will be penalized if they do not comply with the virtual safety car system.

It does place a big onus on the FIA to make sure they have the entire circuit under serious scrutiny at all times and that the system is bullet-proof in reliability and efficacy as margins of error would could cost teams serious chunks of time during a race which could impact the outcome. That’s nothing new to the FIA, just an added weight to their already full plates.

The system is the first outcome of the serious accident involving Marussia driver Jules Bianchi at the Japanese Grand Prix this year. The incident and this new virtual safety car system places a high premium on the reduction of speed in yellow and double-yellow flag zones implying that drivers were not slowing enough for safety reasons.

Look for a full-scale system to be initiated in the 2015 season with other possible changes to stranded car removal and marshaling processes to come. As we discussed in our most recent podcast, it would be best if the result of the Bianchi crash found holistic solutions that could be used across many forms of motorsport in order to improve safety during yellow-flag situations including the WEC and other forms of racing. F1 has a tendency to look at driver safety in a focused lens and make changes to the chassis (which is fine) but procedural changes that benefit all of motorsport would be a better solution.

Hat Tip: BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson

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