The FIA, Formula One's governing body has issued a statement defending the Aston Martin F1 safety car after criticisms from drivers; the most extreme was from reigning world champion Max Verstappen who compared it to a 'turtle'.

"There's so little grip and also the safety car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle. Unbelievable," Verstappen said after the recent Australian Grand Prix.

Formula One alternates a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage as safety car between races. Both cars are driven by German Bernd Maylander.

Leading drivers complained about the lack of temperature in their tires due to the 'lack of pace' of the Mercedes-AMG 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 powered Aston Martin Vantage.

Race winner and Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc also shared his observation: "I wanted to complain, 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."

"For sure the Mercedes safety car is faster because of the extra aero. The Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip, because our tires were stone cold," added Verstappen.

Mercedes F1 driver George Russell says the Mercedes safety car is about 5 seconds faster than the Aston Martin.

FIA STATEMENT:

"In light of recent comments regarding the pace of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, the FIA would like to reiterate the primary function of the FIA Formula 1 Safety Car is, of course, not outright speed but the safety of the drivers, marshals, and officials.

"The Safety Car procedures take into account multiple objectives, depending upon the incident in question, including the requirement to ‘bunch up’ the field, negotiate an incident recovery or debris on track in a safe manner and adjust the pace depending on recovery activities that may be ongoing in a different part of the track.

“The speed of the Safety Car is therefore generally dictated by Race Control and not limited by the capabilities of the Safety Cars, which are bespoke high-performance vehicles prepared by two of the world’s top manufacturers, equipped to deal with changeable track conditions at all times and driven by a hugely experienced and capable driver and co-driver.

The impact of the speed of the Safety Car on the performance of the cars following is a secondary consideration, as the impact is equal amongst all competitors who, as is always the case, are responsible for driving in a safe manner at all times according to the conditions of their car and the circuit.”