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FIA issue statement after recent criticisms of Safety Car speed

The FIA have responded to recent driver comments about the speed of the Aston Martin Safety Car, with the governing body issuing a statement.

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, have released a statement in response to some recent comments from F1 drivers that pointed out the difference in speed between the two Safety Car models. Both Aston Martin and Mercedes supply Safety Cars for use in Formula 1, with the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series used for the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix. In Melbourne, it was the turn of the Aston Martin Vantage and, having made an appearance on track, drew some criticism from the drivers due to it being apparently slower than the pace of the Mercedes GT car. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who won the race, explained that he was struggling to keep temperatures in his tyres under the Safety Car, but could see that the machine, driven by Bernd Maylander, was being pushed to its limits. Sitting beside him, Mercedes' George Russell quipped: "We don't have that issue with the Mercedes AMG Safety Car! "On a serious note, the Mercedes-AMG is like five seconds a lap quicker than the Aston Martin Safety Car, which is pretty substantial." Max Verstappen was also critical, saying the Safety Car was "slow like a turtle".

The FIA respond to the criticism

The statement from the FIA was released on Wednesday, apparently in direct response to the criticisms from the drivers. "In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is, of course, not outright speed, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and official," read the statement. "The Safety Car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to 'bunch up' the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track."

Safety Car speed not determined by the vehicle's capabilities

The FIA clarified that the Safety Car's pace is dictated by Race Control, and doesn't necessarily reflect the full capabilities of the machine. "The speed of the Safety Car is therefore generally dictated by Race Control, and not limited by the capabilities of the Safety Cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world's top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-drive," the FIA statement continued. The Mercedes Safety Car has 730hp, adjustable suspension, a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of over 200mph. Aston Martin haven't revealed the Vantage's key figures, but it is a "track-focused" car that has been "adapted for the ultimate speed and handling to perform its important role in F1." The FIA added that the speed of the Safety Car doesn't prioritise the changing performance capabilities of the F1 cars behind it. "The impact of the speed of the Safety Car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration," the statement read. "The impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and the circuit."

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