That means: At the season opener in Bahrain, the safety cars will bear the Aston Martin name for the first time in Formula 1 history. A special version of the Aston Martin Vantage acts as the safety car, with its 4.0-liter V8 turbo engine producing 510 hp at 6000 revolutions per minute. The curb weight of the production version is 1530 kilograms. But of course Aston Martin has to convert the car for use as a security vehicle: larger braking systems, more agile chassis, larger radio systems inside the car (for example to communicate with the race management).
The medical car will be an Aston Martin DBX, also equipped with a 4.0-liter V8 turbo that even produces 550 hp at 6500 rpm. The standard version has an empty weight of 2245 kilograms.
The counterpart from Mercedes looks like this: The Stuttgart-based company is bringing a Mercedes-AMG GT R to the track as a safety car. The 4.0-liter V8 turbo develops an impressive 585 hp at 6250 rpm, making it the most powerful safety car in Formula 1 history. The curb weight of the production model is 1630 kilograms.
As a medical car, the Swabians rely on a Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, also equipped with a 4.0-liter V8 engine that generates 510 hp at 5500 rpm – with an unladen weight of 1730 kilograms for the road model .
Aston Martin starts at the Bahrain GP, in Imola Mercedes comes to the train. The rest of the calendar is split between the two brands. In order to increase the visibility of the safety car, Mercedes will paint its vehicles red in the future. The Aston Martins are green like the Formula 1 car, which is driven by Sebastian Vettel, among others.
The safety car drivers
The drivers of the security cars remain the same. As has been the case since the 2000 season, the German Bernd Mayländer is in the safety car. The doctors car is driven by Alan van der Merwe from South Africa. Both are professional racing drivers. Mayländer contested a total of 65 DTM races between 1995 and 2004 and won for Manthey Mercedes at Hockenheim in 2001. Van der Merwe was involved in various formula racing series, and in 2003 he won the British Formula 3 title. Cars in Formula 1.
History of the safety car
A safety car came onto the track for the first time at the 1973 Canadian GP – as a result of a collision between Jody Scheckter (McLaren-Ford) and François Cevert (Tyrrell-Ford). The safety car driver Eppie Witzes – a local racing great who also competed in two Formula 1 races – was ahead of the eighth-placed Howden Ganley (Iso-Marlboro-Ford). The first seven drivers thus got a free lap. At a time when there was no computer timekeeping, but lap times were stopped by hand and positions were sorted by lap tables, utter chaos broke out. Five drivers were absolutely convinced that they had won the Grand Prix. It was not until the evening hours that the race management declared Peter Revson (McLaren-Ford) the winner.
Only 20 years later, in 1993, was the safety car officially included in the regulations. After a collision between Ukyo Katayama (Tyrrell-Yamaha) and Aguri Suzuki (Footwork-Mugen-Honda) at the Brazilian GP, it was used for the first time – for eight laps.
In the first few years the safety car was only seen sporadically. There was also no specific security vehicle – it was determined by the organizers at their discretion. For example, it was a Porsche 914 at the 1973 Canadian GP and a Fiat Tempra at the 1993 Brazilian GP. Opel, Honda and Renault have also provided the safety car. In 1996 Mercedes became the exclusive supplier.
Crazy safety car statistics
Before the 2021 season, there were 279 safety car phases. Almost 15 race distances have already been completed at a slower pace behind the safety car. At the 2011 Canadian GP, the race management proudly called the safety car onto the track five times. At the 2016 Brazilian GP, it was 34 of the 61 race laps – more than half the race distance – on the track.
Incidents with the safety car are rare. Nick Heidfeld crashed into the medical car during training for the 2002 Brazilian GP. Taki Inoue had two unpleasant encounters with the security vehicle in 1995: at the Hungarian GP he ran in front of the safety car and was knocked over, at the Monaco GP the safety car collided with the wreck of the Japanese, whereupon his footwork hard hit has rolled over. Both times he was unharmed.
The safety car has already been misused for tactical purposes: at the 2008 Singapore GP, Nelson Piquet junior intentionally caused an accident so that his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso could win the race. The trick: Alonso pitted just before the accident. When everyone else turned into the pits to refuel after the safety car had brought the field together, Alonso took the lead and could no longer be overtaken on the narrow street circuit.
Virtual safety car since 2015
Since the 2015 Formula 1 season (first outing in Monaco), race management has also had the option of calling a virtual safety car. Then the drivers have to reduce their speed by 35 percent and are not allowed to undercut a certain lap time. The safety car only intervenes in the race when it is really necessary.