Corvette drivers question "frustrating" safety car usage
Corvette drivers Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen have questioned the use of the safety car in the Le Mans 24 Hours, after a late intervention effectively ended the American marque's chances.
Despite the introduction of the full-course yellow - as used in other FIA World Endurance Championship races - to Le Mans for the first time, the safety car still made a total of eight appearances and had a profound effect on the GTE Pro class battle in particular.
On numerous occasions the pack was split up by the safety car procedure, in which cars can be caught up in any one of three crocodiles around the 13km Circuit de la Sarthe.
Although there was no repeat of one car being handed a big lead in the early hours of the race, as occurred in 2018, the final safety car period deployed in the 21st hour effectively decided the race in favour of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari as the only other car in contention, the #63 Corvette, was held at the end of the pits.
Magnussen, who then spun the #63 car of second at the Porsche Curves shortly after, said he didn't understand why the FCY was not used more often instead of the safety car.
"It is disappointing that the race gets affected so much by the safety cars," Magnussen told Motorsport.com. "I like the FCYs much more than the safety cars, and the slow zones.
"In slow zones you can a lose a little as well, so FCYs are a much better way of going about things. I don’t think having three safety cars [circulating] is a good idea at all."
Gavin, one of the drivers of the #64 Corvette that was taken out of the race in the incident that triggered the second safety car period of the race, admitted that watching the sister car's victory chances being ruined by the safety car was hard to watch.
"It's frustrating that once again [the safety car] has shaped the race," Gavin told Motorsport.com. "It effectively put that car [the #51 Ferrari] out in front.
"Hopefully they can look it at find a solution that makes it fair for everyone and keeps the race alive. That’s what all the teams want, the fans want, they want a race that goes to the wire and battling on the last lap. It’s frustrating that was taken away from us."
Aston Martin team principal Paul Howarth told Motorsport.com he "felt sorry" that his rival's challenge faltered because of the safety car, but could understand why the full safety car was used in cases were marshals were having to carry out barrier repairs.
"[Corvette] really demonstrated they can challenge the best manufacturers in the world, and it was heartbreaking to watch them sat there at the red light [at the pit exit]," Howarth said.
"The sport has to be safe, but it does look like a roll of the dice. The speeds are so high here, we have to rely on the organisers to make the right decision for the marshals on track."
BMW's Augusto Farfus commented that the situation was an improvement on previous years.
"They used a lot of FCYs, and the safety car would have been worse, if they used that [every time]," he told Motorsport.com. "You will never make a race that makes everyone happy, but at least they tried this year the FCYs."
Safety car on track
Photo by: Marc Fleury
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