Since 2021, safety car duties have been shared between long-standing supplier Mercedes - which runs a 720 bhp AMG GT Black Series track-focused sports car - and the upgraded Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition.

That outgoing Aston model is almost 200 bhp less powerful than the Mercedes, produces less downforce and is 45 kilograms heavier.

Given the subsequent difference in lap time, with the Mercedes estimated to be five seconds quicker, Max Verstappen famously labelled the Vantage a “turtle” for not circulating fast enough to allow drivers to maintain tyre temperature.

Speaking at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, the now reigning three-time world champion said: "The safety car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle. Unbelievable.

"To drive 140 [km/h] on the back straight, there was not a damaged car, so I don't understand why we have to drive so slowly. We have to investigate.

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

"It's pretty terrible the way we are driving behind the safety car at the moment."

Bernd Maylander, Safety Car Driver at Qatar GP 2023

However, Aston is set to debut a new safety car this season in line with the Vantage having been heavily updated as part of a mid-life refresh.

Along with revised bodywork and new grille, power has been increased by 150 bhp to 656 bhp courtesy of bigger turbochargers, more cooling and new camshafts for its AMG-supplied 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.

The new Vantage has been spotted testing ahead of the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, complete with a rear wing and dark green and black camouflage livery. understands that the new Vantage will be introduced for the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP, the second race of the campaign.

The Aston Martin F1 team and its Vantage safety car carry significant branding from Aramco, the Saudi state oil company.

The new Vantage, its GT3 racing counterpart and the AMR24 F1 challenger were all launched on 12 February.

Aston also provides the F1 medical car, which in 2023 was upgraded from the standard DBX sports utility vehicle to the upgraded 707 model, named in deference of its power output.