Depending on the weekend, Formula 1 is using two different safety cars in the 2022 season. Some weeks, that car is the absurd Mercedes AMG GT Black Series. Other weeks, the duty falls on the more reasonable Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition. The massive gap in their actual on-track speed from week to week has led to some issues for drivers, including reigning champion Max Verstappen.
F1 tires require significant temperatures to work properly, so drivers have to run relatively quickly behind a safety car to keep grip in them before restarts. With the AMG GT, this is not a problem. The slower Aston Martin, however, does not run laps quickly enough for drivers to maintain those speeds and restart with the same standard they have come to expect at other tracks. As Verstappen told Motorsport, the Vantage is "like a turtle" in comparison to the F1 cars behind it and its lower corner speeds have had a direct impact on the way the series races. Charles Leclerc and George Russell shared his concerns, with Russell noting that the Vantage is "like five seconds" behind the safety car provided by his employers at Mercedes-AMG.
F1's primary safety car has been getting progressively faster since 2010, when Mercedes moved from the SL63 AMG to the more performance-focused SLS AMG. That was followed by the AMG GT S, then the AMG GT R, and now the AMG GT Black Series. When the Vantage was introduced as an alternate safety car for some races in 2021, it was a rare step back in relative speed. In a vacuum, it would be a simple adjustment to significantly lower grip on restarts. In a series where some rounds have a notably fast safety car and others have a softer grand tourer at the front of the field, it creates a very different restart situation week to week.
Does Verstappen have a point about the slower Vantage? If so, Aston Martin might have a solution waiting for them in its existing product line. The new V12 Vantage can wear the same livery, use the same light structure, and significantly increase the car's actual pace. It still might not be as fast as the AMG GT Black Series, but the change would at least keep current corporate partnerships intact and lessen the gap between the two cars.