On the decision of the Race Director, the safety car may be deployed to neutralise a race if competitors or officials are in immediate physical danger but the circumstances are not such as to necessitate stopping the race, to start a race in exceptional conditions (e.g. poor weather), to pace a rolling start and to resume a suspended race.

The safety car is designed or adapted for high performance circuit driving and with power adequate to maintain speeds at which the types of cars competing in the event can follow it without compromising their normal function. The safety car must be marked "SAFETY CAR" in letters of appropriate dimensions similar to those of the race numbers, on the rear and sides. It must have at least one clearly visible yellow or orange light on the roof and a green light showing to the rear, each powered by a different electrical circuit. It will be driven by an experienced circuit driver. It will carry an observer capable of recognising all the competing cars, and who is in permanent radio contact with race control.

There will be only one safety car in operation at a time, except for circuits of over 7 km in length, where other safety cars, positioned at intermediate points around the circuit, can be authorised by the FIA.

When the order is given to deploy the safety car, all marshal posts will display waved yellow flags and "SC" boards and the orange lights at the Line will be illuminated for the duration of the intervention. The safety car will start from the pit lane with its orange lights illuminated and will join the track regardless of where the race leader is. All the competing cars must then form up in line behind the safety car no more than five car lengths apart.

When the Race Director calls in the safety car, its orange lights will be extinguished; this will be the signal that it will be entering the pit lane at the end of that lap. At this point, the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, be more than five car lengths behind it. Each lap completed while the safety car is deployed will be counted as a race lap.