For a long time I've been unhappy with the Safety Car procedures, particularly when the lapped cars are released and we all grow beards waiting for them to scamper off into the distance. Look, none of us are getting any younger, and often I have to get to bed when the race is finished.
So, long story short, the current procedure has... Got. To. Go!
Apparently someone else is on the same wave-length and some alternatives to the current setup have been floated.
New Reg I proposed on the @formula1podcast. Under SC, lapped cars must fall behind any cars behind them who are on the lead lap.— Fake Charlie Whiting (@charlie_whiting) May 26, 2015
So the basic concept would see the frontrunners progress to the front of the pack while the lapped cars simply drop to the back and we get back to racing. I however reckon we can go one better...
What's more, Mark pointed out that those most likely to object, i.e. the back markers, don't have a vote on the strategy group and so don't have a say in the matter.
(NB: I just listened to the latest episode of F1B and Mark's fellow host Paul suggested the exact same thing that I did. Great minds.)
But then I remembered why I'm not a genius and in fact the sport would be pretty jacked up if I was let loose on the regulations.
Under my (and FCW/Mark's) scheme the cars that have been lapped are grossly disadvantaged, and it's especially problematic if a lapped car overtakes the last car on the leading lap.
I pointed this out to him and, well... confusion reigned.
Well, I don't have a piece of paper so this will have to do.
To make sure we're clear, here's what we're talking about...
When the safety car comes out the unlapped cars catch up to the back of the pack, while the cars that have been lapped either fall back through the field to the rear (Mark's idea) or pull into the pit lane and rejoin the end of the pack as it passes them down the straight (my idea).
Faster restarting times, more racing, just this once common sense prevails.
To illustrate this, imagine the following scenario....
Button is in P11 and catching Maldonado in P10 (and yes, I chose those drivers to play on your sympathy... that says more about you than me).
Hamilton is in the lead and laps Jenson and then a Safety Car is released. Maldonado is on the leading lap and speeds away to join the back of the pack. Meanwhile Jenson is stuck behind Lewis until he is ordered to fall back to the rear of the pack, behind Maldonado but now a lap down.
Get it? He's back behind Maldonado but he's done one lap less than Pastor, and even if he gets past Maldonado after the restart he'll still be in P11 and almost a full lap behind him. In effect the gap of a few seconds has blown out to 1 lap and a few seconds.
CAN'T WE... JUST... MAKE IT WORK... SOMEHOW?
Ok, I'll give it a go.
Let's say Jenson falls back behind Maldonado but, to encourage racing, we ignore the fact that Jenson has done one fewer lap.
You could just wipe a lap from his race time i.e. Jenson (and all lapped cars behind him) have one lap where they don't register a time, or they could complete one fewer lap than the rest of the pack for the race.
This is needlessly complicated, but then again this is Formula One we're talking about.
Secondly, and watch what I do here, I'm going to actually make you sympathise with Maldonado.
If Jenson has completed, say 49 laps and Pastor has completed 50 (albeit with at least a few behind the SC) we are asking the pair to race each other however one car has a distinct advantage over the other. Button has used one lap less fuel, allowing him to theoretically burn through more for the remainder of the race. His tyres are one lap fresher as well. So it's a minuscule advantage but show me one team, one single team that is ok with any of their competitors having an advantage over them.
What we have now sucks. It needs to be improved and in this period of regulation flux the door is not only open, it's practically falling off the hinges. However, as much as it pains me to admit it, we haven't quite cracked it yet.