The 11 best safety cars

07th December 2021
James King

The 2021 Formula 1 season, and the first grand prix in Jeddah in particular, has had its fair share of safety cars. This may completely coincidentally correlate with the debut season of a certain Haas driver, but either way, we’ve been treated to seeing the rather cool Aston Martin DBX and Vantage a few times this year, as Aston Martin has shared safety car responsibilities with Mercedes.

You’d imagine that the safety car, or pace car, has always been a fast, reliable and safe car, but sometimes series organisers like to let their hair down and just go for the crowd pleaser… or the downright bizarre.

So, we’ve had a look through the racing archives and found what we consider to be the 11 coolest safety cars. Disclaimer: these are very much based on our opinion, as you are no doubt about to see… They’re not all that cool.


Lamborghini Countach

We’ve kicked things off with a fairly strong contender for greatest safety car of all time. In 1983, Formula 1 decided that the best way to control the pace at a safe and reliable speed was to use an unreliable, unsafe and rather quick Lamborghini Countach… and we fully support this decision. However, this is probably one of the few instances that a safety car will probably need a safety car.


Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG

We couldn’t go without including at least one Mercedes, which has supplied F1 safety cars since 1996. For the 2000 and 2001 seasons, we were treated to the elegant yet powerful CL55 AMG. Ironically, for a car with an incredible amount of torque, 2001 also saw the debut of Kimi Räikkönen.


Porsche 911 – Monaco 1976 (930 Turbo), Belgium 1995 (993 GT2)

If you were to choose the safest, quickest and most reliable Formula 1 safety car today, we suspect the majority of you would go for a Porsche 911. In fact, there have been a few times a 911 has been selected, but their reputation for safety wasn’t what it is today.

Our two picks, although there have been more, are the 1976 Monaco and the 1995 Belgium Grand Prix safety cars, a 930 Turbo and a 993 GT2 respectively. Both of these have a slight reputation as widowmakers, so we’re not too sure they were the best choices…


Porsche 914

Here’s a fact for your next pub quiz, or if you’re looking to break the awkward silence with the in-laws this Christmas. The first ever Formula 1 safety car was the Porsche 914 at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix. There, it’s not awkward any more is it?


Fiat Tempra

Some of you may question how cool the Fiat Tempra really is, but if Ayrton Senna is holding a Brazilian flag out of the window after winning the race, it’s good enough for us.


Honda Prelude

Again, some of you will argue that the Honda Prelude doesn’t fit on the list of ‘coolest’ safety cars, but just look at that picture. It’s 1994, it’s in Japan, it’s raining and Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher are vying for the lead. It’s cool.


Renault Clio Williams

If Williams lends its name to a Renault Clio, it has every right to be a safety car and you can’t tell us otherwise. Luckily, the Clio Williams is a fantastic little hot hatch and we hear that it’s actually ahead of the rest of the grid on pure merit and pace.


Aston Martin DB5

Taking a step away from Formula 1 for a bit, we’ve had our fair share of cool safety cars here at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. One of our favourites was at the 2007 Revival where we had this Aston Martin DB5. Sadly it didn’t feature a smoke screen.


Ferrari F40

Maybe taking the title away from the Countach as the coolest of the lot, we also had a Ferrari F40 safety car at our Group C demo at the 72nd Members’ Meeting in 2014.


Saab 95

Most of you will be wondering why there is a Saab 9-5 safety car from the BTCC at Oulton Park included in this list. We can assure you that it is in no way related to the fact that one of the Goodwood staff, who may or may not be writing this article, has recently purchased a Saab themselves. It is here completely on merit.


Mercedes-AMG SLS

We’ve also decided that the SLS AMG deserves to be mentioned on this list because… well just look at it. When introduced in 2010, the SLS AMG was the most powerful Formula 1 safety car of all time. The gullwing doors were also perfect for a hero's speedy exit from the car in an emergency.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • List

  • Aston Martin

  • DB5

  • Porsche

  • 911

  • Lamborghini

  • Countach

  • Formula 1

  • BTCC

  • 72MM

  • Members Meeting

  • Mercedes

  • CL

  • SLS

  • Honda

  • Prelude

  • Saab

  • 95

  • Renault

  • Clio

  • 914

  • Fiat

  • Tempra

  • Ferrari

  • F40

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