Lapped cars to get blue flag warnings 20% earlier

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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.

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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.

Poll: Do F1’s blue flag rules need to be changed?

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    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...

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    15 comments on “Lapped cars to get blue flag warnings 20% earlier”

    1. Richard (@)
      22nd June 2017, 18:58

      F1 moving in the right direction, wonderful !
      I would ,however ,like to see it taken further, say 1.5 secs. not just 1.2 and more important a blue flagged car must be required to move over immediately and there should be a substantial penalty for a failure to do so .
      I suggest an immediate black flag with a 5 grid place penalty for the 1st offense , 10 places for the 2nd offense ( in a season or within 10 races if there are less than 10 remaining when the offense occurs ) and finally a disqualification from the next race for the 3rd offense within the tracking period .
      I am glad that F1 has recognized the problem and how it effects the race and the fan experience .
      I am aware of the fact that slower cars are still racing and that often winning a point or two can be very important to a team or a driver but, the opportunities granted to the slower cars especially those out of the points cannot be permitted to interfere with the completion for the podium or title .
      Anything less would be unfair to the constructors the drivers and most important , the fans .

      1. Well, before you include all fans in that, my view is the polar opposite: far as I’m concerned the blue flag rules rob us of watching the front runners use their skills to navigate traffic. All cars on the track are equally important, otherwise we may as well stop calling F1 a sport.

        1. While I do like to see them race rather than move aside for the faster cars.
          The issue might be a Haas making it easy for Ferrari and making it difficult for Mercedes. Or a Williams/Force India making it easy for Mercedes and not that easy for Ferrari.
          We already so something on similar lines even with blue flags between Massa and Vettel this year.
          So blue flags effectively avoids any deliberate such attempts or intra-team orders.

          1. +1
            I’m sure that’s what the rule change is about. Actually, it’s a tricly one. There are at least 3 good reasons to tweak the regulations in one way or the other:
            1. Overtaking backmarkers adds to the challenge of the front runners and therefore to the excitement for most fans. So let them race.
            2. A backmarker too focused on running his own race and not giving a dime about the guy behind can completely ruin the race of the front runner. So let the front runner pass.
            3. A backrunner can be given orders to hinder one driver and not another. So let the front runner pass.
            Overall, it’s about getting to that sweet spot where you get the best of both worlds: The challenge and excitement of (1) plus the fair play of (2) and (3). With my very scarce technical knowledge I’ve no idea of what is that sweet spot in terms of gap between drivers, penalties issued, etc. But I feel this change is a good move to adapt the rules to the new cars.

    2. Totally disagree.
      Those backmarkers drive their own race and might be working harder than those lucky ones driving in the top cars.
      Warning backmarkers is good, but obliging then to pull over even sooner is not correct in my opinion.

    3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      22nd June 2017, 20:01

      I can’t understand this rule! What if a driver comes out of the pits that is about to be lapped with much faster tyres than the leaders. Even though they are clearly faster, if they are still with in a second, will they have to let than through and hand behind them for several laps loosing time? This is just stupid. I remember Haryanto being faster than Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel in Spain last year just after he pitted. But within a couple of laps he had pulled away a little. This shows that if he let them through earlier (which now looks like it has become a rule) he will have had to suffer several laps stuck behind slower cars, which as it happened, were the leaders. I think the blue flag rules were bad enough as they were. This will just make them worse. We can start giving driver of the day to the back markers now as they’ll have a hard job having to look out for the leaders all the time!

      1. @thegianthogweed I think there’s been precedent of a driver not needing to let a lapper-to-be past if he’s fast enough (a la HAM unlapping VET in DE a few years back, and maybe VES in China)?

        1. I’ve heard it can ruin Codemasters’ F1 games though

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          22nd June 2017, 21:01


          I just hope lapped drivers still will get given a while if they have just pulled out of the pits to show if they have the pace to pull away. It would be very annoying if they instantly had to let them past only to find out that the leaders then end up holding them up. But yes, I remember Kobyashi unlapping Vettel in 2014. I just hope the rules are no more strict now.

          I remember in 2014, in Monaco, even the driver in 5th had been lapped. If these rules really are getting stricter, races like this will be a real pain for all those drivers that are still fighting for the points even though the ones in 9th and 10 could even be lapped twice. Just because they are in slower cars, why should they have less right than the leaders?

          1. @thegianthogweed Then the team mistimed the stop, which is a strategical mistake. Traffic will always induce time losses, not only to the back-marker, but also to the leader (dirty air, possibly having to make a move). I don’t see why so many people want the back-marks to actually race the leaders, which I think is rather pointless.
            Kobayashi overtaking Vettel was funny of course and I think back-markers should be able to unlap themselves, but that has nothing to do with the blue flag rules.

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              23rd June 2017, 9:21


              I mean this beacause Haryanto could still have been fighting with his team mate later on. So he will want to loose as little time as possible. That is why I think he shouldn’t have to loose any more time than the leaders. It really does seem like drivers at the back don’t matter a lot of the time. They can’t help it that they are in a bad car. Just like the leaders are often lucky to be in one that is far quicker.

    4. Just get rid of blue flags.

    5. Yes they should just get rid of blue flags. Let the faster cars pass the back markers the old fashioned way.

    6. Maybe just disqualify laped cars then?

      Though, 1.2s to 1.5s is not much of a difference.

    7. Did you write that correctly Keith?
      Unless the rules have changed to an absurd degree, Blue flags have nothing to do with rivals overtaking if they are racing. Nothing to do with overtaking in general, but only in lapping.

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