Aston Martin hits back at claims its F1 safety car is too slow

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The world’s top Formula One drivers are complaining the Aston Martin safety car is too slow – by pace-car standards. But Aston Martin is having none of it.


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British sports-car maker Aston Martin has hit back at claims its Formula One safety car is too slow – via a statement issued by the motorsport governing body – after top F1 drivers said it was at least five seconds per-lap off the pace.

Aston Martin alternates safety car duties with a Mercedes-AMG for every second F1 race.

But after just three races into the 2022 season, drivers have expressed their frustration at the below-average pace from the Aston Martin.



Reigning F1 world champion, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, said the Aston Martin was as slow as “a turtle” in an interview with Motorsport.com.

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Mercedes F1 driver George Russell estimated the Aston Martin was about 5 seconds per lap slower than the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series safety car.

Earlier this year Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc told Australian media including Drive: “I wanted to complain, but then I checked how much the safety car was sliding in the corner and I don’t think there was anything more that he could give, so I didn’t want to put too much pressure.”



However, Leclerc noted: “With the cars that we have now, it’s very difficult to keep the temperatures in the tyres behind the safety car.”

F1 safety car driver – Bernd Maylander – a former race driver, told German publication Auto Motor und Sport:

“It’s nice that Charles Leclerc saw that I was absolutely at the limit. More was not possible with the best will in the world.”



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While Aston Martin has not directly defended the pace of its safety car, industry observers believe the sports-car maker applied pressure to prompt the motorsport governing body, the FIA, to issue a statement on its behalf.

“The FIA would like to reiterate that the primary function of the FIA Formula One safety car is, of course, not outright speed, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and officials,” a statement from the FIA said.

“The speed of the safety car is generally dictated by Race Control, and not limited by the capabilities of the safety car.”



The FIA also said that, at times, the safety car is instructed to slow down, to bunch up the field or to avoid debris, noting: “The impact of the speed of the safety car on the performance of the (F1) cars following is a secondary consideration.”

For the record, the Aston Martin Vantage used as a safety car is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 sourced from Mercedes-AMG.

However, there is a power difference between the two vehicles.



In the Aston Martin, the engine has a claimed output of 394kW in F1 safety car spec, while the Mercedes-AMG safety car reportedly has 544kW under the right foot.

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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