Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel claims his rivals are abusing the VSC (Virtual Safety Car) system, exploiting a critical loophole that allows you make up more time than officially permitted.
His comments come after he lost places to both Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen last weekend in Spain, finishing P4. Vettel went in for a pit stop under the VSC, then lost track position. According to the German driver, there’s a weakness in the system’s software.
“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance.”
“So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret. Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”
Meanwhile, FIA race director Charlie Whiting stated that he’s not aware of any issues with the VSC system, reports Autosport, and went on to deny that it’s possible to manipulate the system.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about, honestly,” said Whiting. “The VSC has a map in the ECU which is 30% slower than a quick lap. Drivers have to follow that lap. It’s measured every 50 m of travel along the track. It measures where it is relevant to the reference lap and gives you a plus or minus.”
Whiting goes on to say that the drivers are reminded every 50 meters if they are above or below that reference time.
“They are allowed to go negative [quicker than the reference time] but as long as they are positive once in each marshaling sector and at the safety car 1 line [it’s OK].”
What about Vettel’s claim regarding a way to save distance?
“If it’s measured every 50 meters then any advantage you can get for taking a different line on the track is going to be absolutely minimal. If they have some evidence of this we’ll obviously have to have a look and see if it can be manipulated. From what we can see over a lap and a half, as long as they are at zero at the VSC ending point I don’t think any advantage can be gained.”
Sebastian Vettel is now 17 points shy of Lewis Hamilton, who leads all others in the 2018 Driver Standings.