Written By Hugh Waring, Edited By Meghana Sree
Formula 1 drivers will now have to adhere to stricter speed restrictions in double yellow flag zones behind safety cars, starting from this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. The FIA has implemented this measure as part of its ongoing commitment to improving safety on the track.
Previously, drivers were only required to reduce their speed significantly, refrain from overtaking, and be prepared to change direction or stop when encountering double yellow flags, as outlined in the International Sporting Code. Lap times in qualifying were deleted when double yellows were in effect, discouraging drivers from taking unnecessary risks.
However, during safety car or virtual safety car periods, the presence of double yellow flag zones did not impose any additional requirements for drivers to slow down further. In some cases, drivers were even able to run faster than normal in those sections of the track to make up for lost time in previous sectors.
Under the new regulations, drivers will be obligated to adhere to a designated speed limit specifically when passing through double yellow flag areas during safety car or virtual safety car conditions.
Tim Goss, the FIA technical director, expressed his belief that the introduction of a specific speed limit would assist drivers and enhance the safety of track workers.
He stated: "Our goal is to provide drivers with a tool to help them during incidents and make races even safer. We have been using delta times as a reference speed limit for several years with the safety car and virtual safety car. However, now we want to extend the use of the delta time concept to ensure that cars are strictly slowed down to the required delta time when double-waved yellow flags are shown under a virtual safety car or safety car. Thus, we are introducing a dedicated reference speed limit in the area where those flags are displayed."
Drivers will receive visual and audible warnings regarding double yellow flag zones, preventing any surprises and enabling them to slow down as required. The delta time requirements will reset to zero at the beginning of each double yellow flag zone.
While the new system may potentially disadvantage drivers who have to slow down for a double yellow flag that has ended by the time subsequent cars pass through, the FIA emphasised that safety must take precedence over competitive aspects.
Olivier Hulot, the FIA Head of F1 Electronics, stated: "Although a car may lose time relative to rivals when it goes through a double yellow but not another, and has to slow down, safety remains paramount for the FIA. When there is a hazard on track or marshals present, we must minimise risks regardless of the competitive implications."