Bernd Maylander is a former pilot who for 20 years has had a very special job: he is responsible for driving the Safety Car (or Safety Car) in the Formula 1 Grand Prix. In the last two decades he led more than 700 laps in the premier class of motorsport and only missed one appointment, the 2001 Canadian GP, from which he was absent for one injury. In a chat with Beyond the Grid, the official F1 podcast, told details of his particular task and revealed which driver is the most difficult to lead in a race.
“Lewis Hamilton is definitely the most complicated”, he acknowledged. And then he specified: “Michael Schumacher was quite calm, quite tough, I have to admit. Taking Valtteri Bottas behind is great, he always stays at the same distance from the Safety Car and it doesn’t push me too much. Neither does Max Verstappen. Nico Rosberg was also calm, always at the right distance. Sebastian Vettel is a bit tougher, more like Hamilton. But Lewis is the most difficult. ”
The British, who on Sunday won the Grand Prix of Portugal, got his 92nd victory and exceeded the record of triumphs In Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1, he tends to complicate Maylander with his frenetic and restless driving behind during cautions. Although the German knows that he does not do it with bad intentions.
“I’m sure he is not trying to pressure me, because he knows what is happening in those cases. But sometimes it is very difficult to have him behind, because he is always pushing, accelerating, braking, zigzagging. he commented.
He added: “That’s his driving style. He tries to do his best to keep his tires in the correct temperature window to get in the best way to relaunch time. And that makes it quite strange to follow him because sometimes he does. I lose sight of myself in the mirror. Is it on the left or the right? ”
Maylander, who as a driver competed, for example, in Formula Ford and the DTM, a German category that ran between 1984 and 1996, It is quite an institution in F1. He is also in charge of testing the tracks when they are in too bad condition for the teams’ cars.
On board his Mercedes AMG, he has – in his own way, of course – led the equivalent of about 12 races. And there is a curious fact that further dimension his history in the category: of the drivers that make up the current grid, only three led more laps than he, and they are Hamilton, Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen.
“I’ve been doing this job for so many years … I’m in my 21st season. And every time the order comes to deploy Safety Car, the pressure in my body rises and the heart races. And that’s the fantastic thing, I feel the same as 20 years ago. But in my case leading is easy. because I must stay ahead of the race leader. I just guide the guys so they can run safely. It is a responsibility and a pleasure, “commented one of the protagonists, albeit with a low profile, of the Formula 1 circus.