Sebastian Vettel has described the implementation of F1’s Virtual Safety Car rules as “poor”, saying it is open for abuse.
Vettel pitted behind the Virtual Safety Car in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, falling from second to fourth as a result.
While the VSC does allow drivers to make a quicker than normal pit stop, the German had to wait for Sergio Perez to come the pit lane which left him stationary for some five seconds.
But while that was the main reason why he lost a possible podium finish, Vettel has hit out at the VSC rules saying there’s a loophole that allows drivers to go faster than they should.
“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40 percent, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,” he said.
“So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.
“Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”
However, FIA race director Charlie Whiting does not agree with the four-time World Champion’s complaints.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about, honestly,” Whiting said.
“The VSC has a map in the ECU which is 30 percent slower than a quick lap. Drivers have to follow that lap.
“It’s measured every 50m of travel along the track. It measures where it is relevant to the reference lap and gives you a plus or minus.
“Every 50m they are reminded if they are above or below.
“They are allowed to go negative [quicker than the reference time] but as long as they are positive once in each marshalling sector and at the Safety Car 1 line.
“Even if someone does go slow, as long as they get to zero by that point it doesn’t matter.
“If it’s measured every 50m then any advantage you can get for taking a different line on the track is going to be absolutely minimal.”
He is, however, open to look into it if Ferrari and Vettel have evidence that it is, or can be, abused.
“I can sort of see what he’s saying, but the racing line is the optimal one.
“If they have some evidence of this we’ll obviously have to have a look and see if it can be manipulated.
“But from what we can see over the course of a lap and a half, or whatever it was, as long as they’re zero at the VSC ending point then I don’t think any advantage can be gained.”