F1 Safety Car Driver Bernd Maylander Address Criticism From Hamilton, Vettel & Co.

Published 10/12/2021, 10:15 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 29, 2021 General view of the safety car as the start of the race is delayed due to bad weather REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


When anyone talks about the safety car in F1, the name of Bernd Maylander pops up right alongside it. Since the turn of the millennium, the German featured as the safety car driver in the pinnacle of motor sport. In over 20 years of holding this position, Maylander led drivers ranging from Michael Schumacher to Lewis Hamilton on several occasions.

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During his tenure, a few drivers often mentioned issues with the safety car’s speed, with Hamilton featuring on that list. In a recent appearance, the 50-year-old clarified why those complaints arise on occasion.

Bernd Maylander addresses previous complaints by drivers including Lewis Hamilton

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In the past, Hamilton took issue with the safety car’s speed during a race. One of the most prominent cases of this occurred four years ago in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In fact, this was the same race where Sebastian Vettel rammed into the side of the Briton, claiming the latter “brake-tested” him. Apart from Hamilton, Vettel and Charles Leclerc also mentioned the slow pace of the safety car on certain occasions.

Recently, Maylander appeared on the In the Fast Lane podcast, where Matt Clayton asked him about this. The 50-year-old mentioned how the need to help marshals takes precedence in a safety car situation.

Formula One F1 – Tuscan Grand Prix – Mugello, Scarperia e San Piero, Italy – September 13, 2020 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car during the race | Courtesy: Pool via REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

He said“I can understand the drivers behind me. Lewis, Sebastian, Charles and whoever says this on the radio. If we have to deploy, I have to wait for the first car so that I get the first car behind me.

“But sometimes, we really have to wait to punch them together very quickly. So, we have to wait for the last car to have a nice pack behind me. And the marshals can work whatever happens on the track. Let’s day there’s debris on the track, or they have to send a JCB on the track.

“To give them more time to be safe, that’s exactly the moment when I get the call from race control, ‘Bernd, slow down. Max speed 140.'”

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Maylander: Tire performance can be an issue

Maylander acknowledged slow speeds would see drivers complain about tire performance. “The boys they will now complain, ‘The safety car is too slow. We lose tire performance.’ Yeah, that’s correct. For sure, they will lose tire performance.”

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However, the 50-year-old emphasised on the most important aspect once again, which was the marshals. “But, in that moment, it’s even more important to cover the marshals, to bring the debris away, to bring the car off the track in a safe way.”

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Following the summer break this season, Maylander was hard at work during the rain-stricken Belgian Grand Prix. However, the need for the safety car was minimal since then, with last Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix virtually being a day off for the German.

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Sanket Nair

824 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 & US Sports Author at EssentiallySports. He began following F1 since 2010, which made him an instant Sebastian Vettel fan. His favorite tracks on the calendar include Spa-Francorchamps, Monaco and Monza.

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