Formula 1 drivers will have a more specific and enforceable delta speed limit target to hit when shown double-waved yellow flags from this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The measure is being implemented by the FIA after “research and review of previous incidents” as well as consultation with F1 teams and drivers in order to improve safety when there has been an on-track incident.
It will apply in areas where double-waved yellow flags are shown – employed according to the international sporting code when there is a “hazard wholly or partly blocking the track and/or marshals working on or beside the track” – specifically under safety car and virtual safety car conditions.
FIA technical director Tim Goss – who held the same position at McLaren from 2014-18 – explained that the FIA wanted to extend the application of the “delta time concept”, which under safety car/VSC conditions requires drivers to be slower than a set reference laptime, specifically to areas where double-waved yellows are shown.
This is to avoid “occasions where cars can legitimately temporarily increase their speed to recover any time they have lost relative to this reference time”.
The previous requirement for drivers under the sporting code was only the vague guidance to “reduce your speed significantly” as well as an instruction not to overtake and to be prepared to change direction or come to a stop.
“What we want to do now is to extend the use of the delta time concept to ensure that cars are strictly slowed to the required delta time when double waved yellow flags are shown under a virtual safety car or safety car, so we are introducing a dedicated reference speed limit in the area where those flags are displayed,” he said.
Drivers will receive alerts warning about an upcoming double-waved yellow flag zone on their dashboard and via radio tones. The delta time will also reset at the start of these zones.
The research carried out by the FIA included track testing at multiple undisclosed venues, as a result of of which it was decided that the wet safety car reference speed limit would be an appropriate speed to apply.
The FIA’s head of F1 electronics Olivier Hulot acknowledged that drivers might be disadvantaged by catching a double-waved yellow that others do not but said safety was a more pressing concern.
“Loss of performance relative to others – if a car goes through a double yellow, but not another one and that car has to slow down, it is losing time relative to rivals,” said Hulot.
“However, for the FIA safety is paramount and when there is a hazard on the track or marshals on track then we have to minimise the risks no matter what.”