Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Ferrari, McLaren denounce safety car rule as ‘wrong’


Ferrari and McLaren have attacked the safety car rule that decided last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, describing it as “humiliating” and “hopelessly wrong” for Formula One.

Fernando Alonso won his first race for Renault thanks to the good fortune of pitting before the safety car emerged a third of the way into the grand prix. It enabled him to tack onto the back of the field under safety car conditions and then go to the front when other drivers pitted when the pit lane was reopened.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh expects the Singapore events to prompt a change in the rules relating to when drivers can pit under safety car conditions.

“It will happen I am sure by the start of next year,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Autosport magazine. “For people to change now they have to accept they got it hopelessly wrong, and it has to change during the winter.”

While safety car intervention can make races closer and provide some unpredictability, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo felt it cheapened the sport.

“Unfortunately when we race on tracks where staging a circus or something else would be better, anything can happen, because the spectacle is supplied by the safety car,” Montezemolo was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport. “This is humiliating for F1. We want to talk about this with all the other teams in the upcoming weeks.”

F1’s first ever night race received glowing reviews from most teams for how the track had been created largely from scratch, the faultless operation of the lighting system, and generally good organization.

However, drivers complained about how bumpy the track was, particularly off the racing line.

The Ferrari president criticized both Singapore and Valencia — a street circuit that hosted the European Grand Prix earlier this month.

“Going forward with these circuits heralds a bad future for Formula One,” Montezemolo said.

Ferrari did not score a point in Singapore after Felipe Massa’s terrible pitstop in which he drove away with the fuel rig and hose still attached, dropping him from race leader to last.

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