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BMW i8 Roadster.jpg

The Safety Car is an important piece of safety equipment, used by the FIA Formula E Championship as a direct means of controlling a reducing the pace of cars on circuit.[1] The Safety Car's intervention is frequently used to allow the circuit to be cleared of debris after an accident, particularly when marshals and large vehicles have to enter the live circuit to remove a damaged car.[1]

In recent seasons an alternative to the Safety Car, known alternately as a Virtual Safety Car or Full Course Yellow, has been used due to the nature of how SC periods interrupt a race.[2]

History

Safety Cars, alternately known as Pace Cars, were first used in the Indianapolis 500, with the inaugural 1911 Indy 500 being the first race to feature a pace car to control the start of the race.[3] International use of a Pace/Safety car was sporadic, with Formula One not using a Safety Car until the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix, when a Porsche 914 was deployed to control the field after multiple incidents on a damp circuit.[4] F1 continued to intermittently use Safety Cars until 1993, when the SC became a mainstay of the F1 paddock with Mercedes-Benz notably supplying F1 exclusively with Safety Cars from 1996 onward.[1]

Formula E History

BMW secured a deal to supply the FIA Formula E Championship with safety vehicles ahead of the inaugural 2014/15 season, which included an exclusive deal to supply the series with a Safety Car.[5] The German marque chose their hybrid i8 sports car to promote their brand which, after upgrades by FE partner Qualcomm, was planned to run almost exclusively on its batteries, rather than the engine.[6] Bruno Correia was selected as FE's main Safety Car driver, with the Argentine driver making his, and the SC's effective debut at the 2014 Putrajaya ePrix after an accident between Michela Cerruti and Katherine Legge.[7]

Procedure

In FE terms the SC procedure has been refined and standardised, with all drivers and teams receiving a direct communication from Race Control via the pit-to-car radio when the SC is being deployed.[1] The Safety Car will then enter the circuit from pit-exit, and will either pick-up the lead car immediately, or tour around slowly off the racing line until the leading driver comes up behind the SC.[1] From there the rest of the field are to catch onto the tail of the SC without speeding or overtaking, and remain within ten car lengths of the car ahead until.[1]

Once an incident has been cleared Race Control will tell all drivers and teams that the SC will pit at the end of the current lap, with the SC duly turning off its lights upon passing a certain marker on the circuit.[1] From that point the SC will continue driving at full speed to the pitlane, while the lead driver will slow the pace of the field to allow the SC to escape.[1] It is then up to the first placed driver to control the pace of the rest of the field, with the driver free to accelerate up to full racing speed before they reach the timing line, so long as they don't overtake the SC.[1]

Restrictions

Starting from the 2019/20 season, the SC intervention would also include an energy deduction for each driver, equating to c.1 kWh of energy per minute that the SC was on circuit.[8] Furthermore, after multiple near-misses at the 2019 Diriyah E-Prix II drivers would be unable to activate Attack Mode during an SC period, and would instead have to wait until the first green flag lap in order to engage the system.[8]

Virtual Safety Car/Full Course Yellow

An alternative to the full Safety Car intervention is known as a Full Course Yellow or Virtual Safety Car, which operates in a similar manner to the SC, albeit with several major changes.[2] Under FCY conditions drivers are limited to a certain speed via a FCY limiter, which they must activate on their steering wheel when an FCY period is called.[2] The FCY intervention hence does not group cars back together, meaning gaps are maintained between drivers throughout the FCY period, so long as there is a gap within which marshals or equipment can get to an incident and work safely.[2]

Procedure

The FCY procedure features some differences from a full SC intervention, with Race Control communicating directly with the drivers via the pit-to-car radio.[2] The Race Director will count down to the start of the FCY period, with drivers having to activate their FCY limiter by the end of the count down or face a penalty.[2] Each driver must then remain on the limiter and hold their position on circuit until the end of the FCY period, which is again controlled via a count down from the Race Director over the radio.[2] Once the second count down is completed drivers may deactivate the FCY limiter and return to racing speeds.

Depending on the circumstances, such as field spread or severity of an accident, an FCY intervention may be escalated to a full SC intervention.[2] In that case the SC will be deployed and tour around at a slower pace then the FCY limiter, with drivers hence able to close onto the back of the car ahead as they join the SC queue.[2] The race will then resume according to the full SC procedure, rather than return to FCY conditions.

Safety Cars

Over the eight seasons of the FIA Formula E Championship four Safety Car designs have been used, two produced by BMW and, for 2020/21, one from BMW's subsidiary Mini.[9] 2021/22 saw the switch from the Mini to the Porsche.

BMW Qualcomm i8

Main article: BMW Qualcomm i8.

The BMW Qualcomm i8 being tested in its role as the Safety Car.

The first FE safety car was built in co-operation between BMW and Qualcomm ahead of the inaugural 2014/15 season, and would be the Series' main SC until the 2018/19.[6] Qualcomm branding was later dropped when the American firm ended their involvement in the FE Championship, resulting BMW enhancing their own sponsorship presence on the car.[6]

BMW i8 Roadster

Ahead of the 2019 Monaco E-Prix BMW unveiled a new SC for the Formula E Championship, based upon the BMW i8 Roadster.[10] The i8 Roadster was touted as the first convertible Safety Car to be used by an FIA series, and would again feature heavy BMW branding.[10]

Mini Electric Pacesetter

Main article: MINI Electric Pacesetter.

Ahead of the 2021 Rome E-Prix I the FIA and BMW subsidiary Mini unveiled a new SC for the FE Championship, based on Mini's Mini Electric, dubbed the "Pacesetter".[9] Co-developed by Mini and BMW Motorsport, the Pacesetter would be used to promote Mini's sporting John Cooper Works sub-brand, with the car sharing SC duties with the i8 Roadster for the rest of the 2020/21 season.[9]

Porsche Taycan Turbo S

to be added

References

Videos and Images:

References:

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SC
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named FCY
  3. Cavin, Curt 'Leaders of the Pack', AutoWeek: Issue 61, (Crain Communications Inc. 16/05/2011), pp.60–61.
  4. A.R.M., 'Canadian Grand Prix: Revson beats the confusion', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/11/1973), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1973/50/canadian-grand-prix, (Accessed 07/03/2017)
  5. 'BMW to become official vehicle supplier', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 30/06/2014), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/june/bmw-to-become-official-vehicle-supplier.aspx (Accessed 02/04/2015)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 'THE MOST PROGRESSIVE SPORTS CAR: The BMW i8', bmw.com, (BMW Group, 2016), http://www.bmw.com/com/en/newvehicles/i/i8/2014/showroom/index.html, (Accessed 21/03/2016)
  7. 'Sam Bird seals victory in the Putrajaya ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 22/11/2014), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/november/sam-bird-seals-victory-in-the-putrajaya-eprix.aspx (Accessed 25/04/2015)
  8. 8.0 8.1 '2019/20 calendar revealed: London and Seoul star in sixth Formula E campaign', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/06/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/june/2019-20-season-calendar-revealed, (Accessed 14/06/2019)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 'MINI Electric Pacesetter to become Official FIA Formula E Safety Car', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 30/03/2021), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2021/march/mini-electric-pacesetter-formula-e-safety-car, (Accessed 30/03/2021)
  10. 10.0 10.1 '“Official Vehicle Partner” BMW i presents the new Formula E Safety Car.', press.bmwgroup.com, (BMW Group, 10/05/2019), https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0295703EN/%E2%80%9Cofficial-vehicle-partner%E2%80%9D-bmw-i-presents-the-new-formula-e-safety-car?language=en, (Accessed 23/04/2021)
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