Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Suzuka, 2017

Alonso penalised for slow response to blue flags for Hamilton

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has been given two penalty points on his licence for responding too slowly to the blue flags he was shown while being lapped by Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso was first shown blue flags at turn 14 (Spoon) on lap 51 but didn’t let Hamilton by until almost a lap later. He was trying to pass Felipe Massa at the time.

The stewards noted Alonso “shown a solid blue indicator light on his dash and waved blue flags between turn 14 and turn 15 on Lap 51. He also had received a flashing blue light informing him that race leader Lewis Hamilton was closing on him for over a lap before.” Alonso then “let Hamilton pass during lap 52 at turn 11.”

Start, Suzuka, 2017
2017 Japanese GP in pictures
“The drivers have been told in drivers’ briefings that the provisions of the International Sporting Code. that they ‘must allow the following car to pass at the earliest opportunity’ means that they should do this for lapping cars regardless of their current battle,” they added.

The stewards. “concluded that Alonso did not do this.”

“Alonso noted in the hearing that there was an opportunity allow Hamilton to pass on the front straight. but not thereafter until turn 11. The Stewards accepted that there are limited safe places to let a car past between turns two and nine which contributed to the length of time it took to allow Hamilton past.”

“In applying the penalty, the stewards compared this incident to other similar incidents and considered that while a breach. this was less severe than others and that when he did move over he gave plenty of room, and subsequently to Verstappen.”

Alonso was given his first reprimand of the year for the driving infringement as well as the penalty points. He said his failure to react to the blue flags more quickly did not affect the race.

“I think Hamilton was leading, the Red Bull second. I don’t know if I waited two corners more or less but they finished in that order so there was not a big implication in the race final outcome,” he said. “So we see, whatever they decide we accept it and we decide better next time.”

The McLaren driver was satisfied with his race despite missing out on a points finish by less than a second.

“I think with the circuit, we started 20th and finish 11th, good recovery with only one stop, starting with a scrubbed set of tyres, I think it was a huge effort from everybody in the team after the penalty with the engine change,” he said.

“I think we deserved the points but it was unlucky situations. Felipe was struggling a lot with the tyres before the Safety Car came in, he breathed a little bit on those laps. In the last laps the leaders they came to us and, unfortunately, he breathed again and took the final point. But we try again in Austin.”

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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  • 31 comments on “Alonso penalised for slow response to blue flags for Hamilton”

    1. What a…Really Alonso? I thought you were better than that

      1. @johnmilk – ha ha ha, nice one :-)

    2. He should’ve waited for Max at the hairpin as well before going back to full throttle.

      1. @jerejj That’s just a sad comment. He shouldn’t have and didn’t. He also should’ve let Hamilton through earlier, but other compensated for this by splitting Hamilton and Verstappen.

        While it was a much closer battle between Hamilton and Verstappen than most (myself included) would’ve thought, Verstappen was never in the position to attack. So the outcome is great.

        Only thing I didn’t like is Hamilton being given the place by the team against Bottas after his pit stop. While not on raw pace, this would’ve given Verstappen at least a chance to overtake. Too bad Mercedes and Ferrari use #2 drivers and Red Bull is at a disadvantage because of this. I love the Ricciardo/Verstappen battles and miss the Hamilton/Rosberg battles.

        1. Red Bull have no stake in the drivers championship. Otherwise they’d use precisely the same tactics with the second placed driver. And where was the Ricciardo/Verstappen battle? That was over by the first corner.

          1. Just like the Hamilton/Rosberg battles then ;)

            1. @rethla Well true, some, though not all of them. Both did overtake the other during various races. I did expect more competition from Ricciardo during this race, though.

    3. Embarrassing… really embarrassing…

    4. Karma, it’s a yoke!

    5. Would be better with without blue flag rules.

      1. @yoshif8tures, blue flags were being issued to slower drivers in the pre-war Grand Prix championship – I’ve seen references to Hermann Muller being issued with a blue flag in the 1939 Belgian GP when Hermann Lang was trying to lap him.

        Blue flag rules were in existence in the 1950’s and being issued as a warning to slower drivers – Harry Schell, who briefly raced for Maserati, mentioned getting blue flagged during the 1954 Spanish GP, and there are records of blue flags from the Argentine GP’s in the 1950’s as well – it’s a phenomenon that has existed in the world of motorsport for nearly 80 years.

        1. Difference is that up until about 1996 the blue flags were simply a warning that a faster driver was behind, From 1996 they changed from been simply a warning to been a message for ‘slower’ cars to get out of the way or face a penalty.

          1. You are absolutely right, and if I remember correctly, it was Jacques Villeneuve complaining about it in Hungary that brought about the change from “warning” to “obligation.”

            Also, wasn’t there a poll about blue flags here not long ago?

    6. I think the bigger issue is that these days the cars, and especially the Mercedes, find it difficult to get close to one another, which tends the backers into thinking the leader isn’t close enough to warrant letting them through. Something for the working group to consider, no knee-jerk reactions, please.

    7. And what about Massa? He held up VER for like half a lap, not 2 corners like ALO.

      1. Massa got away as it wasn’t reported.

      2. Little economical with the truth there.

    8. I really think they need to revert the blue flag rules to what they were prior to around 1996 (And what they still are in Indycar among other series), That been nothing more than a warning rather than a ‘get out of the way now’.

      Getting through lapped traffic used to be a skill, Some were fantastic at carving through traffic (Senna & Mansell to name 2) it while others were more tentative (Prost) & likewise some backmarkers were better at letting leaders through than others.

      I recall reading comments from I think it was Timo Glock a few years back where he spoke about how blue flags were regularly destroying his races as moving off line as often as he was having to was covering his tyres in marbles/dirt which was costing him grip which was slowing him down which was cooling his tyres which was resulting in the tyres falling outside the operating range that was costing him more grip & causing higher levels of degredation that was compromising his entire race & more than once costing him positions.

      I have always had the view that regardless of what position your in you should be allowed to run your race & fight your fights without having to hinder your own progress by jumping out of the way of faster cars for fear of penalty. Today Massa & Alonso were fighting for the final point, A final point that is important to both teams in the constructors standings & which could end up been worth millions at the end of the year.

      Yes I know the counter argument is always that following/passing is difficult & that leaders getting compromised by slower cars is awful but I would counter that with the argument that if a car is fast enough than another that he is lapping it that he should be able to find a way past (Especially with DRS) & that if he can’t then it says more about his racecraft than anything else.

      1. No, the counter argument is that without the present blue flag rules, backmarkers of “second teams” can influence the race result. A Toro Rosso could let a Red Bull through then hold up a Mercedes, for example.

        1. I think what will help is getting the cars less negatively affected in dirty air such that a slower car can’t hold back a faster one so easily without even really trying ie. unintentionally.

          1. @robbie Yep but we know that will never happen. The cars will be to slow or to dangerous without the massive aero.

          2. @robbie, that does not help if a driver has decided to deliberately obstruct somebody else, such as Arnoux spending most of his career intentionally blocking Prost out of spite whenever Prost was coming up to lap him or Fontana, who drove for Sauber in 1997, claiming that Ferrari tried to pressurise the Sauber team into deliberately holding up the Williams drivers whenever they were trying to lap them.

    9. Actually I’m quite enjoying Alonso stubbornly holding up everyone and insisting on the right to fight for his one or two points.

    10. Karma

      that is all

      1. To the tune of 40 million dollars a year…

    11. BBC Commentators totally missed this.

    12. Alonso is clearly not enjoying this anymore. I hope he finds a good contract at Indy and goes there for next year.

    13. All these comments are ridiculous. Read the stewards findings and even RBR’s and Max’s opinions on Alonso. You’d think they’d be irked but they aren’t at all. Blue flags should just be done away with. If you’re fast enough to be lapping someone, you should be able to get by without help.

    14. Non-UK sources says he was penalized for slowing down Verstappen, not Hamilton.

    15. The FIA should be focusing on how to achieve some sort of engine equality, in order the lapping of slower cars to be significantly less, as it should be. The blue flags circus that we are watching nowadays its a joke. Blue flags are almost everywhere in some races.

    Comments are closed.