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F1 teams seek safety-car rule change after Valencia controversy

Ten drivers were penalized at last weekend's European Grand Prix after failing to follow the safety-car rules.
Ten drivers were penalized at last weekend's European Grand Prix after failing to follow the safety-car rules.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Williams' Sam Michael calls for the FIA to reassess the current safety-car rules
  • Ten drivers were penalized for not following the current safety-car rules at the European GP
  • Ferrari said last weekend's race in Valencia has thrown the sport's credibility into doubt
  • Schumacher had already been penalized for overtaking whilst the safety car was on duty

CNN -- The Williams team has called on Formula One bosses to review the safety-car rules after Sunday's controversial European Grand Prix in Spain.

Nine drivers were given post-race penalties for speeding while the safety car was on duty following a horrific crash involving Red Bull's Mark Webber, who was lucky to escape the incident unhurt.

After seeing Williams driver Rubens Barrichello incur a five-second penalty after finishing fourth in Valencia, the team's technical director Sam Michael said the sport needs to reassess the rules.

"In this regard the [safety car] regulations probably need a review, rather than clarifying," he told Formula One's official website.

Those who didn't follow the rules were penalized in a way less severe than the damage suffered by those who did respect them
--Luca di Montezemolo
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"From a personal perspective, I was in favor of the old system when you could duck and dive into the pits under the safety car in order to win advantage, but I also appreciate that the current rules are there to promote safety."

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo told the team's official website that he hopes motorsport's ruling body, the FIA, takes "necessary decisions" in a race he described as "unacceptable."

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was also penalized in Spain for illegally overtaking the safety car to retain second position before pitting.

Championship leader Hamilton was later able to take a delayed drive-through penalty without losing his second place, allowing him to earn 18 valuable points.

Vettel cruises to victory in Valencia

Fernando Alonso, who finished eighth in Valencia, said the controversial incident involving Hamilton gave Ferrari a disadvantage over one of his team's closest rivals.

"It was unfair -- we respected the rules and didn't overtake under the yellow flag," Alonso told reporters.

"They gave the penalty but a bit too late -- 20 laps to investigate one piece of overtaking."

This is not the first controversial incident this season regarding the safety-car rules.

Confusion surrounded the Canadian Grand Prix after Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher passed Alonso during the end of lap 78 while the safety car was still on the track.

Latest F1 championship standings

Despite the seven-time world champion pleading his innocence, the FIA stewards deemed the move illegal, handing him a post-race 20-second drive-through penalty which saw the German fall from sixth place to 12th.

Last week the FIA attempted to clarify the incident by saying that no driver is allowed to overtake the safety car when it is deployed at the beginning of, or during, the final lap.

However, the incidents at the European Grand Prix have now cast further doubt on the way the sport is governed.

Montezemolo said the race was in danger of damaging the sport's credibility.

"Ferrari, which showed itself to be competitive in the European Grand Prix, paid a price that was too high for respecting the rules," he told Ferrari's official website.

"Meanwhile, those who didn't follow the rules were penalized by the race officials in a way that was less severe than the damage suffered by those who did respect them."

"That is a very serious and unacceptable event that creates dangerous precedents, throwing a shadow over the credibility of Formula One."