Pedro de la Rosa thinks revisions to Formula 1's safety car rules still need careful evaluation, despite a move by teams and the FIA to improve the situation after the controversy in Valencia.
Effective with this weekend's British Grand Prix, the FIA has tweaked the safety car procedures to ensure there can be no repeat of the circumstances that led to Lewis Hamilton overtaking the vehicle in the European GP. From now on, when the safety car is called out, drivers will be limited to the speed of the safety car until they form up behind it after Turn 1.
Despite teams agreeing to that move, de la Rosa reckons that slowing cars down to that extent could lead to other problems – especially if some drivers are unaware the safety car has been called out. In Valencia, he was one of nine drivers to be penalized after the race for not having slowed enough behind the safety car.
"We need to talk a little bit more in depth about the safety car rules," said de la Rosa, who is a former chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA). "The only thing we have to be careful about is remembering that these nine drivers, all of us who came in, we never noticed the delta time. That is why we over-speeded.
"Then imagine that one of them realizes and brakes just to respect the delta time – and the guys behind are flat out. It could be dangerous."
De la Rosa acknowledged that one solution could be for drivers to be given an audible warning that the safety car was out, but even that idea was fraught with difficulties.
"Sometimes these systems fail," he said. "The safety car signal could be switched on for some reason, and you suddenly back off and lose 20 seconds. That is why we decided not to introduce the audible tones in the first place, just in case there were some problems. Normally, you use the tones for shifting.
"It is not an easy situation. From the outside it might look easy, but when you are inside toe cockpit – just remember nine drivers got caught. We didn't do it on purpose; it was stupid. I was only 2.8 seconds too fast going into the pit lane."
De la Rosa also reckons it right the FIA had not simply decided to close the pits during safety car periods – as had been discussed during a meeting with the teams earlier this week.
"You could do it, now that there is no refuelling, but that would be a shame because you would cut out all the interesting strategies that could be found in the race," he reckoned. "If you started saying you could not do this or do that, then the racing would be boring. For me the safety car makes the racing a bit more interesting and the clever/lucky guys can get more out of it."