F1: FIA confirms procedure for virtual safety car periods

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Following Jules Bianchi’s devastating crash last October in the Japanese Grand Prix, movement began for the use of a “virtual” safety car concept during Formula One events.

The VSC periods were then used on a trial basis during practices for the final three Grand Prix of the 2014 season. Now, the FIA has confirmed an official procedure for how they’ll work in race conditions.

Accordingly, the VSC procedure has been added to the FIA’s Sporting Regulations. Per those Regulations, the VSC will “normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant the use of the safety car itself.”

Once the VSC has been called, all electronic marshal panels will flash those very letters and teams will be notified of the situation over the official messaging system.

Drivers can’t enter the pits unless they are to be changing tires, and must stay above an FIA-mandated minimum time at least once in each marshaling sector of the course.

On that note, the Regulations state that drivers can’t go around “unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous.” They’ll be sanctioned by race stewards if they fail to stay above the minimum time.

When all’s clear to resume racing again, teams will be given word that the VSC is coming to an end (again, through the messaging system). Then, at any time between 10 to 15 seconds later, the electronic marshal panels will switch to green and drivers will be allowed to race immediately. Those green panels will be extinguished after 30 seconds.