Formula One: Former champion Jacques Villeneuve calls for changes to Safety Car rules

A safety car drives in front as the race was stopped due to heavy rain at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 5, 2014. Formula One must change its Safety Car protocol and make their deployment automatic with every crash, 2007 wo
A safety car drives in front as the race was stopped due to heavy rain at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 5, 2014. Formula One must change its Safety Car protocol and make their deployment automatic with every crash, 2007 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said on Monday. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Formula One must change its Safety Car protocol and make their deployment automatic with every crash, 2007 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said on Monday.

The Canadian spoke out following Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix in which Frenchman Jules Bianchi of Marussia was involved in a life-threatening collision with a recovery vehicle while racing under yellow flags.

The Safety Car was sent out only after Bianchi's accident, a decision that Villeneuve has criticised.

He said: "The rules have to be changed concerning the safety car. When I was racing, and afterwards, I was always saying that any time there is an accident there should be a Safety Car.

"There should not be room for judgment. If someone has to go out to pick up a car stranded on the track, it's simple.

"Accident - Safety Car. And, that's it. It should have been like that for years. America has had that forever." He added that trying to regulate the dangers with yellow flags was not effective.

"The problem now is that every time the FIA send the safety car out all the media and fans complain, saying they destroyed the race," he said.

"So now they second-guess themselves. It's a 'lose-lose' situation. Yes, sometimes it does slow the race down a bit, but at least you avoid cases like this. And you 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 like just having yellow flags.

"You do slow down, but 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 before.

"Quite often people spin when other cars have spun and they just miss them by inches."