Tsunoda highlights bizarre F1 safety car system anomaly at Brazilian GP – Motorsport.com | CarTailz

The scenario that unfolded robbed the AlphaTauri driver of two positions, leaving him well behind the drivers he should have been fighting with.

Following the controversy at last year’s Abu Dhabi GP, the FIA ​​decided to automate the system that identified the lapped cars eligible to lap themselves during a safety car period.

Last year in Abu Dhabi only a few cars were allowed to pass leaders Lewis Hamilton, leaving no traffic between him and Max Verstappen, while the Dutchman and Carlos Sainz still allowed cars in third to keep him safe from an attack from the Ferrari driver protection.

It also sped up the unlapping process enough to allow time for a restart and give the Red Bull driver a chance to overtake Hamilton and win the World Championship.

The incorrect count of lapped cars was blamed on human error by an FIA official working with then-race director Michael Masi.

To avoid repetition, F1’s timing software has been modified to automatically flag cars that have been lapped, allowing them to pass before restarting.

When the safety car came out in Brazil, the three cars lapped were Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and the Williams pairing of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Tsunoda was in the queue just behind leader George Russell when AlphaTauri took the opportunity to pit the Japanese rider for new tires.

In doing so, he actually overtook Russell in the pit lane, making a brief technical pass in doing so – before exiting the track sixth in the queue, behind Russell, the lapped Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz. Latifi, the third lap rider, was right behind him.

By overtaking Russell in the pit lane, Tsunoda had created a situation that had not been foreseen and according to the automated system he was not eligible to lap himself.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

When the message “lapped cars may now overtake” appeared on the timing screens, only Albon’s and Latifi’s numbers were mentioned.

Tsunoda’s engineer hesitated upon seeing the message, saying, “You can lap overtake… Standby, Standby.”

In the confusion, Tsunoda was initially lapped by Sainz but then stalled behind Perez while Latifi, with whom he was battling for position, simultaneously overtook him and passed the leading cars.

When asked about overtaking, Tsunoda was told, “Negative, no overtaking,” to which he replied, “What the hell, what do we do?” He was then told, “Hold position Yuki, don’t overtake.”

He then let Sainz past and restored his original place in the queue. The restart came with the lapped Tsunoda still separating Sainz from his pursuers, led by Charles Leclerc.

Tsunoda could have disrupted the races of Leclerc and others. However, his engineer wisely told him at the restart to let the faster cars pass and he almost came to a stop on the pits straight as he let the entire field pass.

As a result, Tsunoda was the only lapped car to remain in last place after losing to both Albon and Latifi. With his fresh tires he should have beaten both of them – and might even have been able to make up places at the restart.

When asked by Motorsport.com what happened, he said: “I’ve been told you have to stay in line. I do not know why.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

A visibly frustrated AlphaTauri team boss, Franz Tost, declined to comment on the events.

The automated system was never intended to impede a driver in such a way or leave a lapped car stuck in the middle of the field under such circumstances. However, the FIA ​​insisted no mistakes were made.

In a statement, the governing body explained in detail what had happened: “All systems were working correctly and according to regulations.

“Car 22 was the first to cross SC1 after the safety car deployed.

“On the following lap he was therefore the first car to cross the SC1 line a second time, which would normally trigger the systems to indicate he was eligible to complete the lap.

“However, at this point he drove into the pit lane and was able to drive faster than the car behind the safety car. He lapped himself while crossing the control line in the pit lane.

“When he rejoined the track the systems correctly indicated he was a lap down again but as he had already lapped himself once he was ineligible to do so when the safety car period ended.

“Race Control verified that this was correct with F1 timing and they confirmed that only car 6 and car 23 can lap themselves.”

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The FIA ​​noted that the situation would be reviewed and potentially addressed in the future: “While this is a very unusual scenario, there were no system or procedural errors – it’s one of those unpredictable scenarios that can happen, and it does exist no immediate changes to implement.

“This will of course be discussed in future Sporting Advisory Committees as part of the normal review procedures.”

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