Drivers who are about to be lapped by the leaders will be given blue flag warnings 20% earlier than before from this weekend.
Blue flags and blue warning lights will now be shown to tail-ending cars when a rival closes to within 1.2 seconds of them instead of one second, as before. Drivers will continue to receive “pre-warnings” when a faster car draws within three seconds of them.
Several drivers have complained about the increased difficulty of lapping backmarkers in 2017. The increased aerodynamic sensitivity of the new generation of cars, which makes it more difficult to follow other cars closely, is believed to be partly responsible.
The pre-warning “should be used by the team of the slower car to warn their driver he is soon going to be lapped and that allowing the faster car through should be considered a priority” according to the FIA’s guidance notes for teams.
“When the faster car is within 1.2s of the car about to be lapped blue flags will be shown to the slower car (in addition to blue light panels, blue cockpit lights and a message on the timing monitors) and the driver must allow the following driver to overtake at the first available opportunity.”
The role of lapped cars in the outcome of races has been put in the spotlight following a series of recent incidents. Kimi Raikkonen suggested lapped traffic cost him the lead of the race in Monaco to team mate Sebastian Vettel. In Russia Vettel complained about Felipe Massa’s driving when the Williams driver got between him and race winner Valtteri Bottas on the final lap.