Safety Car driver responds after ’turtle’ jibe
"I’m well aware of the criticism from drivers like Verstappen"
Formula 1’s safety car driver has defended himself following criticism after the Australian GP.
World champion Max Verstappen described the green Maylander-driven Aston Martin safety car in Melbourne as a "turtle".
"In a straight line, he was doing a maximum of 140kph, although there were no wrecked cars in that section.
"I don’t know why we had to drive so slowly," the Red Bull driver said.
Maylander, who is F1’s long-time safety car driver and once an accomplished racer in the DTM and top-level sports cars including Le Mans, was asked about the comments.
"I’m well aware of the criticism from drivers like Verstappen, but I couldn’t do much," the 50-year-old insisted.
"It’s nice that Charles (Leclerc) saw that I was absolutely at the limit. That’s all I could do."
It appears the FIA is also aware of the problem with the Aston Martin safety car, having cleared Mick Schumacher of the blame for a near-crash in Melbourne.
In the stewards’ ruling, the FIA said the "speed and braking capabilities of F1 cars ... are in tension with the ten-car length separation behind the safety car traditionally specified in the regulations".
As suggested by Maylander, championship leader Leclerc doesn’t blame the safety car driver for the speed problem.
"To be honest, I wanted to complain," he said. "But then I checked how much the safety car was sliding in the corner and I don’t think there was anything more that he could give so I didn’t want to put too much pressure."
George Russell, meanwhile, pointed out that F1’s other safety car - a Mercedes - is "five seconds quicker than the Aston Martin".