Formula 1


FIA pledge to close virtual safety car loophole after Sebastian Vettel's claims

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Following Sebastian Vettel's complaint at last month's Spanish Grand Prix that the virtual safety car (VSC) could be manipulated to secure an unfair advantage, the FIA have moved swiftly to close the loophole - despite originally denying its existence.

The 30-year-old Ferrari man finished fourth in Barcelona and criticised the VSC after the race, suggesting that drivers were able to cut down the distance at which they would have to travel at reduced speed by driving in what he termed "ridiculous" lines. 

Charlie Whiting, FIA race director, had initially insisted that he was "puzzled" by Vettel's claims, but, per Autosport, he has now reversed his stance on the issue.

"Yes, I've worked it out now," conceded Whiting. "The calculation that the system does every 50 metres is based on the distance from the timing line...So, if you can shorten that, you can gain tiny fractions."

Current world championship leader Vettel endured a difficult race in Spain. A miscalculation in respect of his tyres meant that he was forced to make two pit stops during the race, and ultimately failed to make the podium as a result.

Vettel's own race performance may have perhaps increased his frustration regarding the safety car issue, but as the sport is one of very fine margins, the VSC anomaly does need to be rectified - something Whiting accepts.

"The way we've calculated it with our software guys is you can possibly gain about 150 milliseconds [per lap]. But in Formula 1 that's worth having...That's the extent of it, as far as it was explained to be me by our software people. We can rectify it, and make it a bit more bulletproof."

Spanish F1 Grand Prix

Given that Vettel currently leads the drivers' championship by just a single point from his long-time rival Lewis Hamilton, the race for this season's crown looks set to be an exceptionally close one.

Whilst technological innovation is no doubt key to the sport, fans ultimately want to see races - and championships - decided predominantly by driver skill.

The VSC loophole cited by Vettel may only have been minimal, but tiny fractions can make all the difference in F1.

Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton
Formula 1

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