Drivers to demand yellow flag clarification

2016 German Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Formula One drivers will push for a clarification of Formula One’s yellow flag rules following the controversial incident involving Nico Rosberg during last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Drivers will raise the subject during tomorrow’s meeting with race director Charlie Whiting after Rosberg took pole position at the Hungaroring after slowing only briefly for a double waved yellow flag warning. Rosberg was cleared following an investigation which ruled he did slow sufficiently for the yellow flags which were displayed after Fernando Alonso spun.

However Daniel Ricciardo, who was also on track at the same time, said he will not change how he responds to double waved yellow flags.

“I couldn’t have done anything different,” said Ricciardo. “Fernando was still on the track. I was prepared to slow down a lot and I had to because he was there.”

“For me, I even get a thing where people go quicker on a single yellow. A double yellow I think there has to be a difference,” he explained.

“When I see a single, sure I slow, but I’m aware that there probably isn’t anyone on the track. But when you see a double it’s a lot more of a stronger sign, you know there’s a bit more going on.

“I think it’s something we’re still going to talk about, discuss and make a bit more clear. There needs to be a big difference.”

Nico Hulkenberg said he expects a lengthy meeting when the subject is raised tomorrow. “I’ll take some food and drinks into that one,” he said. “It’s going to be long.”

“Every double yellow of course means there is some danger and be prepared to stop,” he said. “Every case is different though, it’s difficult also for Charlie and for the outside to judge that incident.”

“If you come around turn eight in Hungary, you look into turn nine so some cars saw Fernando sitting on the kerb there so you know you have to lift, you’re forced because he was right there on the ideal line. I think when Nico came it was clear and it was different. So it is difficult but we all have to have great respect for yellow flags.”

Sebastian Vettel pointed out that advances in timing technology have made it easier for drivers to get away with slowing only very briefly for warning flags.

“You could argue modern technology didn’t do us a favour,” he said. “Since we introduced the timing loops so it’s not just sectors one, two and three but within the sectors you have different loops, and then there was a sort of guideline that if there’s a single waved yellow you have to lift off by two-tenths, if there’s a double waved yellow you have to lift off by five tenths.”

“But that was verbal, there’s nowhere to find it in the rule book, and basically apply common sense. But then the problem is you leave it up to us, and where is the limit?”

“So you had a guy last weekend, arguably if a lot of other guts were in his shoes we maybe would have done the same, he comes around the corner, sees the double waved yellow, sees the track is clear, obviously then still has a shot at the rest of his lap, where do you draw the line?”

“In the past it was more simple just because you didn’t have the ability with the loops, it was clear, sector two in that case, if you go green or purple you abused the rule. In that sense it made it a lot easier for us in the car now we have to think about how much time you have to lose. And that’s I think what we have to discuss tomorrow and come to an agreement.”

2016 German Grand Prix

    Browse all German Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    64 comments on “Drivers to demand yellow flag clarification”

    1. Why is Rosberg not in the press conference? He is German LOL

      1. Too busy explaining to the police why he ran a red light, but how it’s fine because noone was crossing the road at the time.

        1. Well.. if you do that in one of the cleanest and organized countries in the world, that’s what you get… Cameras… every traffic light..

        2. Oh, but he did lift! That ought to counts for something, right?

        3. Hahaha. Gold you guys!

      2. Exactly what I thought when i saw the line up. But come to think og it, he’s not really German is he?

        1. @pking008 He races under their flag though. They have three German drivers, Haryanto whose contract is about to expire, Ricciardo to talk RB vs. Ferrari and Nasr to talk about the Sauber revival and possible chances. There really is no need for Rosberg to be there too.

      3. And to think that Rosberg is the leading German driver for the past 3 years and he is not even in the German press conference? That says alot.

        1. Its an all German front row tho Pking…

    2. Manor racing can’t afford hats I guess eh?

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        28th July 2016, 16:23

        what do you put on the hat? “your name here”?

        1. Like HRT’s 2011 livery?

    3. I actually think this is one of the most significant ruling snafus in recent memory. By not penalizing Rosberg, the stewards created a huge ‘moral hazard’ problem. This is not good for fairness or safety.

      1. Nico did not ignore the flags, so it would have been unfair to penalize someone who is innocent. He obeyed the flags while they existed and they disappeared when there was no longer any danger. It all just happened uniquely very quickly because they properly assumed initially that FA was stalled but then quickly removed the flags when FA moved along. From my vantage point at least, and if I’m the rule makers, I’d be telling the drivers the system is fine, slowing 20 kph is sufficient on a dry track and is an obvious indication that the driver has heeded the concern, and this situation was unique. I’m sure the drivers in a similar situation would not want to have to remain slowed when there was absolutely no reason for that, and that the majority of the time flags will not have to appear and disappear so quickly.

      2. @chad Alonso set a Purple S3 and a FLAP under yellow at 2010 Korean GP. He wasn’t even investigated… It’s nothing new and they didn’t create a ‘moral hazard’….

        1. @goofy but, but,…. it was Rosberg!!

          You’re right but that does not mean clarification cannot be given by the FIA. If you expect people to behave in a certain way in a certain situation it’s not those peoples fault if you never tell them what you expect. If simply ‘lift a bit and make sure you can show it on a delta’ is enough, than that is what those people will do.

          1. @xtwl I’m complety with you. But in 2010 it could have decided the WDC but nobody cared. The situation around Rosberg reminds me of the witch hunt against Vettel and his allegdly overtake under yellow in 2012 at the Brasilian GP. Just ridiculous.

            1. Problem is not flags, but rather the verbiage of the rules! At some of the rules, there is super clear figures, on others there is interpretation gap from North to South Pole… VSC has set speed delta, pit lane has set speed limit, why cant the flags has certain combination of delta/speed limits! Problem would be solved instantly… There would not be ifs and buts… Rosberg saying oh i lifted significantly 20kph an hour… so he is saying he lifted of 20kph into one corner where it says significantly slow down, no lifting at all in single yellows… where he should have lost (0.7secs) 0.2+0.5 secs, but doing purple in the sector, he must have used some extra turbo gear i guess rest of the sectors

    4. One that rarely talked about is the intention of the flags. As a driver you can’t be aware of what happening in the track that outside your vision, so the flags is there to tell you if something happened. My personal problem with what Nico does in Hungary is not because he didn’t lift enough or if he broken the written rules, but he kinda said “Meh, I don’t see anything on the track so screw the double yellows”. What if the trigger for the double yellow is something that very hard to see from driver cockpit? It’s obvious with that speed, Nico isn’t prepared to stop at all as he still focusing on setting the best time. This is also why I think that Bianchi also has the share of the blame, because it’s the fact that he can’t stop his car properly and safely when double yellow means “slow down and prepare to [b]stop immediately[/b]”. The drivers need to adhere and trust the marshall judgement, not dismissing them easily especially on safety ground.

      1. You sir are completely right and your point is THE point. Nico could not have stopped if he had needed to and his lift was tiny. Why didn’t the stewards see that. Brundle says he was savvy. I think he ignored standard behaviour and was lucky.

        1. Dwight Yoakum
          28th July 2016, 20:27

          “Nico could not have stopped if he had needed to…”

          Complete and utter nonsense. Compare Ricciardo’s speeds through corners eight and nine to Nicco’s and you’ll see that your line of reasoning does not stand. Ricciardo himself has stated that he “lifted massively”, and he’s being held up by the fans as an example of a driver who reacted much more to the situation.

          When you watch the two driver’s runs side-by-side, you can see that Nico went completely off throttle early on approach to turn eight, coasting to the apex where his speed was a grand total of 4kph faster than Ricciardo’s (148 to 152kph). From the apex of turn eight you can see down the full 70m to turn nine. Both drivers saw an empty track (no car, no debris, no marshals, nothing) and they both accelerated, both briefly hitting full throttle before lifting off completely again. Ricciardo’s top speed between turns eight and nine is 186kph, 3kph faster than Nico’s, indicating that he’s going through the zone even more aggressively than Nico. At the point of turn-in to corner nine, both drivers are doing almost identical speeds (173kph). For Ricciardo, he then sees the stopped car on the racing line at corner exit, and slows “massively” down to an acceptable 90kph to crawl past Fernando. For Nico, he again sees nothing but clear track, the flags cancel, and he accelerates away.

          So I draw two conclusions from this. First, if Ricciardo’s speed going into turn nine was slow enough for him to safely decelerate to ninety and crawl past Fernando, then his entry speed into corner eight was also slow enough to do the same if the hazard had been there instead. Second, if Ricciardo is being pointed out as being one of the drivers who handled the yellow flag situation appropriately, then people have to accept that Nico was equally safe.

      2. @sonicslv See this is where I have a problem with some opinions on this. I think it is an incorrect assumption to say that what happened was Nico decided for himself that there was no danger so ‘screw the double yellows.’ If he had done that he simply would have been penalized. He wasn’t. He obviously never took the situation into his own hands. He obeyed the lights on his wheel, the flags on the track, and likely some radio communication as well, both in getting off the throttle enough to satisfy F1, and back on the gas again when given the go ahead to do so. I’m absolutely convinced all the drivers would have done the same thing in exactly the same spot timing wise as Nico was.

        1. He apparently didn’t do enough to satisfy the drivers. The rule says slow and be prepared to stop. What does be prepared to stop mean in terms of speed? The majority of drivers clearly believe it means more than a 20kph reduction in speed thus the request for clarification. Remember that there is a significant difference between a waved yellow flag and waved double yellow flags. Nico’s behavior was more in line with a waved yellow and not the double.

          1. @velocityboy I suggest that under most circumstances the drivers would not want to have to slow more than 20kph. The reason that seems not enough in this unique case is because the incident happened quickly, the flags appeared and disappeared quickly because FA was not stalled after all, and NR got a pole time on an improving track. So on the surface it seems Nico could not have slowed enough but upon investigation he did everything right. It all just happened so quickly. It was unique so no knee-jerk reaction needed not rule changes. Clarification for the drivers should show that they would all have done the same thing as Nico did. And will show that had FA indeed not quickly moved along the double yellows would not have disappeared and Nico would have had to abort.

        2. @Robbie That kind of attitude is what I argued about. Yes he didn’t violate the written rule, but he violate the intent/spirit of the rule itself. Does slowing down for 20kph in F1 car speed sounds prepared to stop immediately for you? Actually the fact that he got so quickly accelerated when his steering light goes off is more like he more concentrated on restarting his quali attempt than concerning about the safety hazard that bring the double yellows. Compare what he does to all other drivers who actually abort their flying lap or saying they can’t make up for the time loss like Ricciardo.

          1. @sonicslv I think this is unique in that the danger disappeared quickly. Yes I think on a dry track a driver lifting and coasting and obviously heeding a caution is prepared to stop. These cars stop more quickly than they accelerate, especially on a dry track. The other drivers ahead of him would have actually passed FA having spun, so of course they had to still be heeding flags. Nico never went past a car on the side of the road. As the ‘straggler’ in the group his experience under the yellows was the shortest once they saw that FA was not stalled.

            1. @Robbie In this instance the problem is pretty simple: Alonso spun and after he continue the track is clear. But what if something happening that can’t be seen easily by the drivers? Something like debris that has similar color to the asphalt, oil leaks, something in driver blind spot out of a corner? IMO that’s why the driver need to respect and trust marshals judgement with the flags.

          2. @sonicslv Yes he didn’t violate the written rule, but he violate the intent/spirit of the rule itself.

            Thus deserves no penalty. Thus clarification from the FIA is needed. I highly doubt Rosberg just decided to ignore double yellows, it could very well have been he got info on the radio that Alonso was already on his way, he lifted for the double yellow but also saw Alonso was gone and then got the green, all which can happen in a split second.

            1. Ok, so penalize him for not driving his car “alone and un aided”…. I’m joking of course.

              Round and round we go…
              Hamilton fan against a penalty here

            2. @xtwl I never argued for him to get a penalty, because I realize what he do is within the boundary of the written rules. What I argue for is are the drivers still respecting the flags especially the one that concerning safety? Or are they just see them as a hindrance and doesn’t care about the safety aspect of the flag itself? We know many drivers doesn’t care about blue flags…

    5. I wonder if double waved yellows should be made redundant now that we have the successful implementation of the VSC. Any time there’s a double yellows situation, just hit the VSC button and you safely neutralise the situation, even in qualifying – forcing drivers to hold station and maintain a steady pace.

      1. Not unless VSCs can be local slow zones. Otherwise we might as well go full red…

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          28th July 2016, 16:25

          I think slow zones are the right thing to do. It’s too ambiguous to say, “Slow down an prepare to stop.” It’s better just to include an 80 kph speed limit so we can avoid things like the Rosberg controversy.

        2. A full red wouldn’t be the same thing. Keeping the track moving allows people to go in and potentially come back out and do their out lap under VSC – if the incident is severe enough to require several laps-worth of time to clear, then it’s likely to be a red flag anyway.

          But yeah, you could localise it I guess.

          1. I agree with you that VSC is still a good option though. Drivers coming around the last sector don’t have to pit if time is of the essence, they can continue on, and so drivers who just came out of the pits don’t have to do entire lap just to pit because of a red flag and waste a set of tyres. VSC would be very interesting to see being used during Q too.

      2. I agree. A simple and obvious solution.

        1. So zero chance of implementation, then…

      3. I agree. The only question would be does it stay out until all cars have gone through so it impacts everyone or if it’s just there until the hazard is cleared.

        1. As soon as it’s cleared. F1 is full of “luck of the draw” situations anyway, but at least this would be safe.

    6. I maintain that if you need to prove you slowed down using telemetry you’re not slowing down enough. Specially with the track conditions at Hungary. Alonso isn’t a guy that’s spinning all the time and he spun around quite easily. Who knows how well a car can stop in unknown track conditions?

      Rosberg said he went into the corner 20 km/h slower, and that in F1 that’s a lifetime. Well, yeah, but if there’s a marshall in the middle of the track, you’d rather have a bit more room to stop properly without giving the guy the scare of his life (or running him over), not even mentioning hitting a damp spot on track. How is he going to brake?

      I agree with Seb there. Technology has not done any favours in that sense. They can point out to the throttle position and say “there, you see? I lifted”. It should be easy to see without a computer…

      1. IF there is a marshal on the track…but there wasn’t, so F1 lifted the yellows. IF there was a stalled car and therefore marshals needed on the track the flags would not have been lifted. The system works. 20 kph would have been visible and audible for anyone at the corner and the only reason telemetry was used was because there was an investigation. 20kph is significant enough that had a driver just done that out of the blue he’d get run into by a car behind.

      2. @fer-no65 DC once said lifting with a F1 has the same impact as going full brakes in an average road car. To cars going fast on a track it’s not always visible when they go slow, thus telemetry proves they did lift. I mean, how often have commentators mistakenly thought there was a problem with a car yet they were just braking, these cars accelerate and decelerate insanely fast.

        1. @xtwl I’m sure it’s exactly like DC said it. But lifting from 300 km/h isn’t the same as lifting from 60 km/h. You’re still going very fast, and you don’t know hwat’s around the corner. A marshall or 5 stranded cars blocking the track.

    7. Simplest solution is to basically disallow any laptimes set on a lap where you pass through a sector with double yellows being waved. So you have to lift off and try again.

      1. Agreed.
        I’m going to quote from my own post on another (related) thread
        “There’s a slightly easier way of doing it to my mind- All practice lap times set when there are double waved yellows on the course are eliminated. Drivers will still have to demonstrate that they ‘slowed down and were prepared to stop’ as per the existing waved yellow rules, but they will not be able to record that lap time for the purposes of qualifying.”
        And now I’m also going to quote from @mysticus above-
        “Problem is not flags, but rather the verbiage of the rules!”
        So let’s make simple, easy to understand rules. Forget the debate about how much a driver has to slow down passed Double Waved Yellows. Just disallow all qualifying times when DWYs are displayed anywhere on the course.

    8. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      28th July 2016, 16:06

      Why is Cristiano Ronaldo in the press conference?

      1. Traverse (@hellotraverse)
        28th July 2016, 17:00

        Further more, why is Jackie Chan?

    9. Daniel van Bree
      28th July 2016, 16:21

      I believe the yellow flag situation can only be lifted, once green flags have been shown, which Rosberg seemed to ignore here. it ensures the situation is under control of the marshals and race control. You see a double yellow, be prepared to stop, even if the track is clear ahead of you. It is quite surprising that we are talking about lifting to lose a tenth,whilst the ruling should just state that a driver should lift continuously until he sees the green flag again. So in that sector he would have seen a yellow, double yellow, slow down considerably, and not go full on again until he sees the green flag again.

    10. I maintain from my armchair the same things I have been saying and the same things the drivers quoted above are saying. This was a unique situation and it isn’t always black and white. Nico did not ignore the flags. FA was not stalled and no people were on the track in danger. The track was not wet. I think all the drivers would have done the same thing in Nico’s shoes, and had Nico or any other driver had his lap ruined by flags that were there for no reason, FA having moved along, that would have been controversial from the other side of the coin. F1 would have been called ‘Nascar’, famous for it’s yellows coming out too often and often for very little if any apparent reason.

      Personally I think nothing need change from this unique incident. There simply was no danger of Nico hitting anyone or anything by the time he went by the corner in question. Had there been danger the system is in place already to hold double yellows longer or VSC the session if not stop it. If they decide to put in mandatory minimums for the duration of a double yellow flag, or mandatory amounts drivers need to slow even when the danger was very temporary, then F1 looks over-regulated and harming what little racing we do actually have.

      I think any of the drivers that are now asking for clarity in the rules, having theoretically had a hot lap taken away when he obeyed flags and never did go by a danger, would be complaining that he was unfairly treated.

      1. William Jones
        28th July 2016, 17:05

        As an ex Marshall who has lost a friend thanks to a driver who thought that he understood the situation better than us on the track, yes, rosbergs did respond to the flags, but in my opinion, the response was appropriate for a single waved yellow, not a double. He passed a double waved yellow and lifted off 20kph around the left handed – fine, then he passed an electronic yellow showing that the yellow was still in force. I don’t care what the drivers think they know is around a corner, he accelerated at full around the right handed. He could not have stopped in the distance he could see at certain points around that corner. I’ll say it again, forget that it’s rosberg, imagine it’s Maldonado. Is that still ok?

        I don’t blame rosberg, nor do I think he should have been penalised. He was within the rules. However I do believe this demonstrated just how much the rules need changing. Drivers will be drivers, they have huge pressures on them to perform, huge financial pressures at the behest of a corporation that treats them more often than not as disposable, and arteries full of adrenaline. We can’t trust them to self regulate their own behaviours – they are young men, they don’t yet have the capability or life experience to judge risk to their own lives, especially wrapped up in Bernies circus. There should be a set speed for single, double yellows, reds etc that the drivers need to be under during those conditions, use the technology of the vsc to control it, make it adaptable to the conditions/corners and bring the decisions out of the hands of the drivers.

        I genuinely don’t understand your resistance to this.

        1. Oh I don’t disagree with you entirely, far from it. I just don’t believe that Nico was having to make any judgements himself nor took the law into his own hands. The lack of a penalty supports that. That’s my only resistance….the suggestion that Nico got away with something by making his own call. I’m sorry you lost a friend, and I would have no issue if they changed the rules as you suggest. And Maldonado in the same situation would also have never passed a danger zone because he, just like Nico, would have taken what he had seen on his wheel and the side of the track flags-wise, and was likely told on the radio had clear track ahead, FA having already moved on. Nico never passed danger in a dangerous manner. It is an assumption to say he still had a yellow that he was ignoring, because otherwise he would have been penalized for ignoring it. I think much of the driver discretion on these types of things has been removed with the advent of the VSC when it is warranted. The only thing warranted here was a quick bringing out of flags and a quick removal of them when they saw FA indeed was not stalled.

        2. Thanks, well said.

        3. I’m sorry for your loss. I agree the problem here the drivers that doesn’t really think or care about what happened outside of their cars. He might go within what written the rules, but in reality he oblivious to the track safety.

          1. I think that is unfair to say of Nico.

            1. @Robbie Never meant specifically for Nico, but all drivers who not respecting the safety concern on the flags, hence the plural form.

        4. There is a set speed reduction for single- and double-waved yellow flags, and has been for some time. So far it does not appear to have solved the problem.

    11. I’m annoyed the argument wasn’t brought up considering this question came just just 2 after the halo one.

      On one hand Vettel says nothing justifies death, but apparently for Nico going faster in qualifying does.

      1. Who was going to die? F1 saw no danger in lifting the yellows that Nico had obeyed, because FA had moved along. Had there been actual danger the flags would not have been lifted.

        1. Whether he had obeyed them or not is what is questionable. As Vettel pointed out double yellow rules = prepare to stop… No way was he preparing to stop. In such tricky conditions how can he be sure why they were waved.

          Especially concidering the most recent death in F1 was caused (according the FIA in part) by the driver not slowing enough under caution. I think it’s very clear that such is a deadly risk.

          1. Well he wasn’t penalized even after an investigation, so…

            Nico was not in a vacuum. I’m sure they were informing him on the radio that FA spun but indeed was not stalled and quickly moved on. Also, there is no comparison to Bianchi as the track was not wet. The track was dry, and those looking out for Nico, since no driver can ever know what is around the corner on his own, gave him the go ahead and again, Nico never did pass any dangerous situation.

            1. I would need to see evidence that the team told him the track was clear! Why would they tell him something they could not see when it might end up before the stewards? They would not have either the time or the indisputable information to tell Rosberg given he was in the corner before the incident passing a yellow that was still lit. In any case they had no motivation to risk it given they were already 1-2 on the grid.

              Rosberg made the decision that the track was clear on his own, he was lucky that the momentary lift was enough to convince the stewards, he’s clever at this sort of thing. It’s about everybody’s future behaviour and the likely penalty for exploring the absolute limits of the rules.

    12. As Nico gets away with yet another transgression drivers will be seeking more clarity.

      And there’ll likely be another post Nico tightening of the rule.

    13. How many times can people say “… But he wasn’t penalized soooooo… Everything’s PERFECT!”

      I don’t really care what results from this, but it is hilarious how fast f1fanatic reader’s problem of the day changes!

    14. If there were better clarity about how much to slow during yellow flags, Bianchi might be alive and we wouldn’t be talking about halos. So it seems to me the drivers are correct: we need more clarity.

    Comments are closed.