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Page last updated at 19:37 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

F1 to scrap 'bad' pit lane rule

The safety car in action at the Italian Grand Prix
Whiting said the existing safety car rule was 'bad'

Formula One's governing body is to scrap the rule that saw drivers penalised for pitting early while the safety car was deployed.

Instead, the pits will be kept open, with software regulating drivers' speeds as they enter the pit lane.

"The rule introduced in 2007 was bad," said F1 race director Charlie Whiting.

The 2007 rule was introduced to stop drivers going through an accident zone at speed to get back to the pits and refuel while the safety car was out.

Whiting told the International Automobile Federation website drivers would have to stick to a time frame they would be given to get back to the pits.

"When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a 'safety car' mode on their ECUs (electronic control units).

"As soon as that message gets to the car, it will know where it is on the circuit, and it will calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits.

"The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard."

Last season, several races were affected by the safety car rule.

In the opening race in Australia, McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen had to pit for fuel and tyres while the safety car was out and subsequently dropped to the back of the pack. He did manage to recover and finish fifth.

Three races later in Spain, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld lost fifth place and finished out of the points when he was penalised for returning to the pits during the safety car period.

In Singapore, Nico Rosberg, who was running in second, and Robert Kubica both served stop-go penalties for coming in when the pit lane was closed.

Fernando Alonso took advantage of the situation to claim his first victory of the season as he had already pitted and was able to move up the field.

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see also
Alonso wins as Hamilton prospers
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen cruises to Spanish win
27 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton wins dramatic F1 opener
16 Mar 08 |  Formula One

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