If you missed it, reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has called out the 527bhp Aston Martin Vantage safety car as slow as a “turtle”.
Verstappen made that comment after the Australian GP where the safety car was brought out twice after Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz beached his car on the gravel and Sebastian Vettel crashed his Aston Martin. According to Vettel, the safety car was driving too slowly around the track, causing his tyres to lose grip as they were cold.
Aston Martin F1 Safety Car slow as a turtle
“There’s so little grip, and the safety car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle. Unbelievable,” Verstappen said after the race. “To drive 140 km/h on the back straight, there was not a damaged car, so I don’t understand why we have to drive so slowly.”
“For sure the Mercedes safety car is faster because of the extra aero because this Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip, because our tyres were stone cold,” said Verstappen.
What about a Ferrari F1 Safety Car?
Australian Grand Prix race winner Charles Leclerc also agreed with Verstappen’s statement and even slyly implied that the Aston Martin safety car was not fit for duty.
“I was struggling massively to put some temperature in them, so I also struggled. To be honest, 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 on,” said the race winner.
Mercedes driver George Russell also joined in the bashing of the Aston Martin safety car and said that the Mercedes safety car is a faster car than the Aston.
“We don’t have issues with the Mercedes-AMG safety car. On a serious note though, the Mercedes-AMG is like five seconds, a lot quicker, than the Aston Martin safety car, which is pretty substantial,” said Russell.
Leclerc couldn’t help himself after George’s statement and said “We need to put a Ferrari on the track, so it’s then five seconds faster than the Mercedes car.”
FIA responds to Aston Martin ‘turtle’ criticism
Following this, the FIA has responded to criticisms of the Aston Martin safety car being a ‘turtle’ – conforming in a way that the Aston Martin is slow…
They released a statement on Twitter stating that the priority of the safety car was not how fast it goes but instead it is there to help officials keep the race running in a safe manner.
“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 officials.”
“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.”
The FIA added that the ultimate speed of the safety car was not defined by its technical aspects, but instead by what race control needs.
Sharing duties: Aston Martin Vantage/ Mercedes-AMG GT
“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-driver.
For those who are unfamiliar with this year’s safety car arrangement, Formula 1 currently has two safety cars, an Aston Martin Vantage and a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, which alternate between races.
While both cars feature a 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine, the Mercedes wins the horsepower output race as it has 730hp compared to the Aston’s 528hp. Apparently, as suggested by Verstappen, the Mercedes-AMG safety car also delivers higher levels of aerodynamic performance.
That’s at least one time Verstappen will fancy a Mercedes in front!