What is the Virtual Safety Car (VSC)?

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The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) came about in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s Japanese Grand Prix crash, with the governing body believing that a new way was needed to slow cars down in the event of an incident.

Article 41 of the rule books outlines how the VSC procedure will work – and makes it clear that it will normally be implemented 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 use of the safety car itself.”

The idea of a Virtual Safety Car was tested in the last three races of 2014. Initially, the drivers were asked to moderate their speed when the VSC comes on, but it faced much negative criticism from the drivers, with many saying that it was difficult to limit their speed instantly when the VSC comes on. The new rule says that the drivers, during the VSC period, must slow down enough so that they their sector times are greater than the ones that are decided by FIA before the race for the particular scenario. This will slow down the drivers without the deployment of a safety car. Any driver who’s sector times are faster than the specified ones, will be penalized.

Whenever the race control feels that it is safe to resume racing, teams will be informed about the cessation of VSC period and “at any time between 10 and 15 seconds later, ‘VSC’ on the FIA light panels will change to green and drivers may continue racing immediately. After 30 seconds the green lights will be extinguished.”

Edited by Bhavna Rachuri

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