RULES NEED TO CHANGE: Formula 1 and IndyCar champion Jacques Villeneuve believes the sport should deploy a pace car for every crash during an F1 race. Image: AFP
LONDON, England - Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 Formula 1 Drivers' champion, wants the sport to change its pace-car protocol to make its deployment automatic for every crash.
Canadian Villeneuve spoke out after Sunday's (Oct 5 2014) Japanese F1 GP in which Frenchman Jules Bianchi of the Marussia team was in a now life-threatening collision with a recovery vehicle while racing under yellow flags.
The pace car was sent out only after Bianchi's crash, a decision Villeneuve has criticised.
Villeneuve said: "The rules have to be changed. When I was racing, and afterwards, I always said that any time there was an accident there should be a pace car. There should not be room for judgement.
"If somebody has to go out to pick up a car stranded on the track, it's simple: 'Accident - pace car'. And, that's it. It should have been like that for years. America has had it for ever."
Trying to regulate the danger with yellow flags, he said, was ineffective.
"The problem now is that every time the International Automobile Federation sends out the pace car the news media and fans complain, saying they destroyed the race. So now they second-guess themselves.
"It's a 'lose-lose' situation. Yes, sometimes it does slow down the race a bit, but at least you'd avoid cases such as this. And avoid the human aspect of having to make a decision.
"Whenever I was racing, if I had a crash, I was always worried about another car crashing into me. I never really liked just having yellow flags. You do slow down, but by how much? And you could have a puncture, or a suspension failure.
"I'm amazed something like this has never happened before. I think we've just been lucky...
"Quite often people spin when other cars have spun and they barely miss each other."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Sochi F1 GP weekend.