F1 Looks Back On 50 Years Of Safety Cars, Starting With The Porsche 914 (2024)

Jun 22, 2023 at 6:59pm ET

Safety cars play a critical role at Formula One events. Their primary role is toensure the safety of the track marshals and safety crews during an accident or other hazardous conditions on the track. Yet while we take them for granted today, there is quite a bit of history behind the safety cars, as revealed in this video on the Formula One YouTube channel.

The first official Safety Car was a Porsche 914/6 deployed at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1973.Since then, Formula One has used various cars to fulfill the role, including a Lamborghini Countach at the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix. More unlikely cars included the Ford Escort Cosworth, a Renault Clio, and the Fiat Tempra. And while the Countach proved sufficiently fast enough for the role, slower cars like the Tempra underscored the need for speed to keep the brake, tire, and engine temperatures of the Formula One cars in their normal operating ranges.

That's why in 1996, Formula One entered into an agreement with Mercedes-Benz to supply the official safety cars. Since then, Mercedes-Benz and AMG have provided a variety of high-performance cars to meet the role's demands, including the CLK63 AMG Black Series, SLS AMG, and Mercedes-AMG GT. It was also the exclusive provider until 2021, when it began sharing that role with Aston Martin.

However, the role of the Formula One Safety car requires more than just a fast car like the Aston Martin Vantage. It requires a skilled driver likeBernd Maylander. An accomplished race driver in his own right, Maylander won the 1997 FIA GT and the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2000, but for the past 24 years, he's been the primary Safety Car driver in over 212 Grand Prix events.

As for the cars themselves, they are much different from their stock, road-going counterparts. The performance and safety equipment are beefed up to handle track work. They have special lights and communications equipment, including a GPS and telemetry, to pinpoint the accident's area and the lead car's location in the race.

More Behind The Scenes Of F1:

Even today, Formula One continues to evolve, and so does the role of its Safety Car. According to Maylander, the team is like one big family who is always learning and working together to improve their roles. While he has many memories from the past 24 years as the primary Safety Car driver, it's that team work he's most proud of.

Source: Formula 1 via YouTube

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F1 Looks Back On 50 Years Of Safety Cars, Starting With The Porsche 914 (2024)


When did F1 start using safety cars? ›

The safety car was officially introduced in 1993, following trials at the French and British Grand Prix in 1992. The safety car has been a variety of different models since it was first implemented in 1993.

What was the old safety car in F1? ›

The first F1 safety car was a "lemon-yellow" Porsche 914, and it made its debut at the rain-soaked 1973 Canadian Grand Prix. It was a far cry from the kind of sports cars used today. A rear engine provided the tiny car with about 80 horsepower.

Why didn t Porsche join F1? ›

Porsche is no stranger to innovation, but the automaker has traditionally focused on refining their road cars rather than chasing Formula 1 glory. Their commitment to creating exceptional sports cars that enthusiasts can enjoy on the open road has been their guiding principle.

What was the safety car in the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix? ›

Porsche 911 Monaco

Was there safety in the 1950s F1? ›

Safety gear was a bit of a 'whatever you fancy' back in 1950. Two years before the mandated use of cork helmets, Dr Farina arrived at Silverstone with his trusty cloth skull cap, two pairs of goggles (he wore the spare pair around his neck during the race), cotton overalls, leather boots and leather gloves.

Why was the safety car introduced in F1? ›

The Safety Car made its first appearance at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix, as a result of several incidents caused by harsh weather conditions. To control the chaos, a slick Porsche 914 was deployed out on track, driven by former Canadian racing driver, Eppie Wietzes.

What is the safest car out there? ›

  • 2024 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Winners. Small Cars. Acura Integra. Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan. Toyota Prius. Midsized Cars. Honda Accord. Hyundai Ioniq 6. Large Luxury Car. ...
  • 2024 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners. Small Cars. Hyundai Elantra. Subaru Impreza. Toyota Prius Prime. Midsized Cars. Hyundai Sonata. Subaru Outback. Toyota Camry.
May 6, 2024

Who drove the first F1 safety car? ›

Eppie Wietzes, a former F1 privateer from Canada, was the first ever safety car driver at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix, with disastrous results. Next, the Monaco Grand Prix had the Lamborghini Countach, but it is not known who drove the car during this time.

How much is the F1 safety car worth? ›

Rumoured to have a list price of £142,000, the F1 Edition will provide increased power of 527bhp (535ps) and a top speed of 195mph.

Why is Bugatti not in F1? ›

Why do Bugatti and Lamborghini not participate in races like other cars? It's a matter of budget and emphasis. Bugatti, the numbers are just too small and there is little brand value to gain. For Lamborghini, they also don't embrace racing like Ferrari.

Why is Lamborghini not in F1? ›

So why doesn't Lamborghini have an F1 team? Lamborghini's parent company, Volkswagen AG, now have other brands involved in F1. Porsche it set to become the engine manufacturer for multiple teams and Audi will have their own team. Lamborghini did try racing in F1 for a few years in the early 90s, but it did not go well.

Is Lamborghini in F1? ›

Lamborghini doesn't have an official Formula 1 team. The Italian carmaker did enter the sport back in the early 1990s, though.

Who was the F1 driver killed at Monaco? ›

Lorenzo Bandini (21 December 1935 – 10 May 1967) was an Italian motor racing driver who raced in Formula One for the Scuderia Centro Sud and Ferrari teams. He had one win in 42 Formula One races, and died from an accident at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix when his open-wheel Ferrari 312 overturned and caught fire.

Why do F1 drivers like Monaco? ›

The residential properties may be expensive, but an F1 driver's salary affords places that are opulent and luxurious, most coming with stunning sea views over the harbour, making it the perfect place to hang out between races.

Why is Monaco F1 so special? ›

Monaco's race certainly looks like no other. The yachts lining the harbour form an iconic backdrop, as do spots such as the hairpin at Casino Square and the famous tunnel section. That backdrop, a city for the super wealthy located between the Maritime Alps and the French Riviera, is unmatched at any other event.

Has an F1 race ever ended with a safety car? ›

2009 Italian Grand Prix

Two races ended under Safety Car conditions in 2009. The second race to do so was the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, in which Rubens Barrichello recorded Brawn GP's final race win. The Safety Car was called out on the final lap due to Lewis Hamilton crashing out from third place.

What was the safety car in 1994 F1? ›

A Honda Prelude, Porsche 993 GT2 and a Lamborghini Diablo would all provide safety car cameos for formation laps in 1994 and 1995 respectively.

When did F1 introduce virtual safety car? ›

Virtual safety cars (VSC) were introduced in 2015 following Jules Bianchi's fatal crash during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, to control cars' speeds during yellow and double yellow flags. Bianchi hit a recovery vehicle that was removing another car that had skidded off the track.

What was the F1 safety car in the 2000s? ›

Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG

Used in: 1999 and 2000 Formula 1 seasons. At the turn of the millennium, F1 was still using Mercedes-Benz safety cars, including the CL55 AMG that ran in the '99 and 2000 seasons. This was also the first car driven by current F1 safety car driver Bernd Mayländer.

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