Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

The only thing the black-and-white flag adds is confusion


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The pivotal moment of the Italian Grand Prix came on lap 24 of the race.

This was not when Charles Leclerc squeezed Lewis Hamilton onto the kerb approaching the Roggia chicane, forcing the Mercedes driver onto the run-off and denying his attempt to take the lead. But a lap later, when the stewards showed him the black-and-white flag for the incident.

Many felt Leclerc had been treated leniently. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insinuated the stewards wouldn’t want to give him the kind of penalty Sebastian Vettel received in Canada. And who could blame them feeling that was in the cauldron of Ferrari fervour that is Monza.

Hamilton, who in Montreal showed keeps a fresh mental copy of the F1 rules and regulations, laid a specific charge at Leclerc as he resumed the chase in his W10. “He didn’t leave me a car’s width there. He pushed me off.”

Clearly, Hamilton was right. But whether Leclerc was required to leave him space is debatable.

The convention that a defending driver has to leave a car’s width for a rival dates back to a spirited battle between Hamilton and Michael Schumacher at this track eight years earlier. After that it was established that a driver who moves off the racing line and then moves back towards it must leave room for another car.

This was originally added to the F1 Sporting Regulations, then moved to the International Sporting Code, where it remains: “Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position offline, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

In the case of Hamilton and Leclerc last weekend, did the Ferrari driver “defend his position offline”? If not, it therefore follows he was not required to leave Hamilton a car’s width.

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The footage of the incident indicates Leclerc followed a fairly standard trajectory through Curva Grande, then began crossing the track from left to right. Afterwards Hamilton made comparisons with Max Verstappen’s five-second penalty for failing to leave room for Valtteri Bottas last year, but on that occasion Verstappen made an unambiguous move off the racing line then back towards it.

Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
Gasly/Magnussen incident was a “carbon copy”
Within a minute of the incident taking place, Leclerc was shown the black-and-white flag for it. But exactly how he transgressed wasn’t clear. When told he was being shown the recently-revived signal, Leclerc asked: “Why?” He received no reply.

The watching world was none the wiser. A week earlier, when Pierre Gasly was shown the black-and-white flag at Spa, race control flashed up a message explaining it was for “moving under brakes”. This time there was no such explanation.

Later, Ferrari told Leclerc “no moving under braking turn four”, which he denied doing. However it seems this was the true reason for the signal, not that Leclerc had failed to leave Hamilton space. FIA race director Michael Masi described the incident as “a carbon copy to what Pierre did last weekend in Spa.”

As covered here previously, Masi was the driving force behind the reintroduction of the black-and-white flag (also known as the ‘bad sportsmanship flag’, though we’re going to need a new name for that in the post-W Series era). But what is it actually achieving?

If Leclerc’s move was illegal, he should have been punished for it. If not, he should have been allowed to do exactly the same thing again. Waving the black-and-white flag at him for doing it suggests that repeating the same move would earn him a penalty, particularly when Masi has described it as ‘motorsport’s yellow card’.

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The matter is complicated further by the different roles Masi and the stewards occupy. It’s a common misconception that the race director decides penalties. They do not; that is the stewards’ job. But Masi has taken it upon himself to brandish the ‘unsportspersonlike driving’ flag (suggest better alternatives in the comments, please).

Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Monza, 2018
Hamilton said Verstappen’s penalty was a precedent
“It’s ultimately the stewards’ decision if someone gets penalised,” said Masi, “the black-and-white sits with me.”

So if a driver is shown the black-and-white flag for an incident, don’t assume they won’t also penalised for it. “If the stewards feel there’s more to it they absolutely have the capability of issuing a penalty,” Masi confirmed. “They could absolutely place that under investigation of their own volition without anything from me like anything else that happens during the race.”

Like any motorsport geek I do enjoy train-spotting the lesser-seen flags of the International Sporting Code. Who doesn’t love seeing them dust off the black-and-orange ‘meatball flag’ every now and then?

But the black-and-white flag is only introducing confusion. A move is either black or white – legal or not. This signal is meaningless, and that will be demonstrated as soon as a driver performs a legal move, is shown the black-and-white flag for it, and then repeats it anyway.

The ‘unsporting conduct’ flag (how about that one?) isn’t the motorsport equivalent of a yellow card, it’s the motorsport equivalent of an exhausted parent rolling their eyes and wagging a finger. Far from being a black-and-white matter, reviving it has just created more grey areas.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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142 comments on “The only thing the black-and-white flag adds is confusion”

  1. ‘unsportspersonlike driving’ flag (suggest better alternatives in the comments, please)

    How about the “driving etiquette warning” flag. If it catches on, i’ll keep one in my door bin and wave it around like a mad man every commute into and out of Cambridge…

    1. undriverlike driving flag

      1. Get out of jail free flag

        Although that seems awfully familiar

        1. That’s just not Cricket flag.

      2. (groans) this feels like pandering. Is anyone who matters meaningfully offended by the existing term.

        1. It’s not about being offended, its about being accurate. It’s only the right wing tabloids that try and turn it into something to be offended by or not. I produce TV – we use the term Camera Operator rather than Cameraman now and it works a treat.

        2. No, but I am deeply offended by the thought that it needs changing!
          We shall be covering piano and table legs again if this ultra pc flake world is allowed to continue.
          Some while back a UK county council of indeterminate hue, apparently identified over 20 different genders! My question would be do you have over 20 separate lavatories for them to use then? (That’s “rest rooms” for American readers. One has visions of sofas and armchairs, but why they want to rest in the toilets is a mystery, seems very unsavoury.)

          Sportsmanship falls in the same area as chairmanship. Madam Chairman was always the correct form of address for a female chairperson. Sportsmanship is a recognised concept of fair play. Having said this one can recall Prost/Senna and others shoving each other off with no penalty, but with with very real probable danger, gravel or catch fencing.
          The American definition of fair moves ie “who moved first is in the right”, seems to cover most eventualities, we should adopt that and do away with everything else, no need to leave car’s width, on line off line, it sorts itself out.

    2. I’m sure I’ve previously heard it referred to as the ‘driving standards’ flag. That seems adequately gender-neutral to me.

      1. How about home track advantage flag.
        This way its clear to the offending driver that the same actions anywhere else will be penalised.

  2. I’ll be honest it feels like a kop out for me. A safety net for not upsetting the casual fans like what happened at Canada. I’m not a big fan of the throw away ‘let them race’ argument either, we have seen unacceptable overly aggressive driving with a lot of the younger drivers, instigated by the likes of Max and Kevin which set a precedent on some dubious defensive driving and weaving which has become the standard. I also don’t like this unofficial rule that if a driver is on the outside of you on corner exit, you have a free pass to run them off the track, whether avoidable or not.

    1. I would like to add generally I’ve thought the stewards have had a good handle of things over the last couple of season. A few decisions aside. If a mistake is genuine from a lock up or late braking then that is more understandable for me. When it’s contact through aggressive behaviour or misjudgement that should be punished.

    2. That weaving has got to go, it is dangerous and will cause serious crash one of these days. Even in MotoGP weaving attracts a massive penalty(Mir was given 6 place gird penalty for weaving at Aragon GP 2017) and even in F1 and lower classes there should attract a strict penalty to avoid any untoward accidents. But since F1 absolutely loves knee jerk reactions unless we see a major accident due to weaving there wont be any action taken on it and drivers like Verstappen and Leclerc will continue to do it in “defence” and that whole argument of “let them race” has gone too far just like dirty driving we have seen in recent days. Unlike Charlie Whiting it seems like Masi is setting very dangerous precedents and it wont be too long before we see another near fatal accident.

    3. Agreed on all accounts ! I have nothing about the black and white flag for limit cases, but it is clearly not the way it is used.

      About drivers on the outside pushed off the track, I hate it too. It cuts some great battles short and is inconsistent with the (also unwritten) rule about the corner entry. I am a proponent of writing down the following very simple rule. Note that in one sentence it covers both corner entry and corner exit, so it must be best as per Occam’s razor ;-)

      “At places where the racing line goes from one side of the track to the other, a driver is entitled claim the racing line as long as he/she is at least half a car’s length ahead.”

    4. I’d imagine that, like in football, there can be a straight red card for a major transgression. But for minor transgressions where you’re like ‘is that really bad enough to warrant a 5 second penalty?’ (like, imo, Leclerc’s move), there’s this black and white flag.

      1. I’d agree @hugh11 and mostly thought that apart from how it was handled last weekend, it seemed a useful concept, except for

        “It’s ultimately the stewards’ decision if someone gets penalised,” said Masi, “the black-and-white sits with me.”

        As @keithcollantine notes, that means it’s little to nothing to do with what the stewards decide! So it’s more like a linesman raising a flag, with the referee then looking to see whether to do something than a yellow card.

        Since we already have video and telemetry (and maybe soon more corners with electronically guarded lines), it seems to add little but possible conflicts between it and the stewards.

    5. @rdotquestionmark: Agree. It fits the classic FIA political solution to a safety problem. Scold the drivers, but keep the ‘hard racing’ TV ratings.

    6. Look, only British arguing on what is happened. Entire rest of the world is ultimately agrees on this flag. This situation was completely different from Vettel vs Hamilton back in Canada. Back then that penalty was justified and most of the world agreed with that. This time Leclerc was ahead and it’s not his fault that cerb had a little bump. He left Hamilton enough space.

      1. @regs

        You are clearly wrong – he did NOT leave Hamilton enough room. Multiple camera angles show this. Additionally, your argument about Leclerc bring ahead is silly: the fact he was marginally ahead and still moving across meant they were interlocking wheels – at which point Lewis couldn’t back out even if he wanted to.

        As for your claim that “most of the world agrees”, unless you have any evidence at all to support that opinion I suggest everyone ignore it.

        1. Schumacher vs Hamilton at the same corner in 2011. Leclerc was a dirty driver who should have been penalized but since all the moves were deemed legal by stewards expect Max to dish out similar driving techniques in coming days and when there is crash I hope Masi and his stewards have good hindsight not to penalize Max or others.

      2. @regs, on the contrary, it is not just the British press that have raised questions over Leclerc’s behaviour in that race – the press in other nations have also raised questions over his defence.

        Whilst the Italian press have heaped praise upon Leclerc, it is worth noting that even they have stated that Leclerc’s behaviour was pretty borderline. When even the media organisations that are probably some of the most biased in Ferrari’s favour have been suggesting that his behaviour was questionable, trying to claim that it is just the British press that are biased against Leclerc doesn’t really seem to hold up.

    7. @rdotquestionmark
      So, Verstappen and Magnussen are t blame for weaving and stuff?
      But, but, but Lewis got a black and white flag in 2011 for weaving…..
      Guess it must be Verstappens fault.

  3. Agree. Like this, the black-and-white flag works as a one-time infraction pass. If something is penalty-worthy, then a penalty should be given. If not, then just let the race continue.

    In my opinion, The black-and-white flag should be shown only for those 3-strikes kind of infractions like abusing track limits or cutting the pit-entry/exit lines when they are not supposed to.

  4. Jose Lopes da Silva
    12th September 2019, 12:46

    People claimed for the “let them race”. Now they´re having hard racing. You get what you vote for, no matter how uninformed the previous debate was.

    1. Was going to say basically the same. People went on and on about penalties and hard racing. But we can’t just have the drivers doing anything they want, consequences be damned.
      The flag seems like a sensible solution. Wave it on moves that get too close to the line of infraction, just not quite over it.
      Of course, now we’re discussing if it should have been a flag or a penalty, but what can you do? People will discuss and argue things. That doesn’t mean the stewards having an extra “tool” at their disposal is a bad thing.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        12th September 2019, 14:50

        Yeah, I liked the flag. As I said elsewhere, the public (and even the drivers?) is not sure if a driver having another one side-by-side has to give him space. Leclerc was not moving under braking, he was in the normal racing line; but shouldn’t he give space to a rival that is side-by-side?

        In the end, Roggia is the worst overtaking spot at Monza because is the only of 4 major braking areas where the normal racing line is crossing the track, so any driver trying to overtaking there has to consider all this.

        1. Exactly this, Hamilton should have known that overtaking there is not a thing. By going off he ruined his chances. He could have just stayed close by keeping within DRS to not fall behind on the straights, LeClerc will have to take a defensive stance, while Mercedes meanwhile play the Bottas card, who — if the team had just postponed his stop by 1 lap — might have had a stop under VSC.

          In the end I don’t think the black-and-white flag was necessary. It can be a useful tool if you want to punish offences that are ‘okay to do once, but not twice’, but that is rather obnoxious. It seems more like an instrument to cover their arses against public outrage by the fans of either driver and those who hate rules in general.

    2. Yes that is the impression, but don’t forget what “people” means. Some people claimed for “let them race”, other ones claimed for penalties with clearer rules.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        12th September 2019, 14:44

        Indeed. The “people” shouting “let them race” shouted louder.

    3. If drivers are allowed to push an attacking driver off track on corner entry or weave to block them, you either get less racing or more accidents. But fair enough. Let’s see what happens.

      As for the B=W flag, it’s completely meaningless. Drivers will just go, ‘oh look, there’s Masi waving is black and white flag.’ What matters is whether the stewards penalize them or not. If that fact is completely unconnected to Masi telling people to wave flags, and the flag waving has no consequence at all, as at Monza, it’s utterly, completely, entirely and wholly pointless.

  5. A move has to be either legal or non legal as if there is confusion between the two and if a driver thinks that there is the possibility that they might get away with a unsporting move then it causes more danger to themselves and other drivers which is a place not to go in any motor sport as safety is a big key factor.
    Why introduce the Halo to improve drivers safety and then bring in a rule that compromises drivers safety.

    1. I don’t know. The move in question, for example: It was pretty on the edge of being unacceptable. However, i feel like it should be taken into account that move was against Lewis, who has shown time and time again that he won’t refrain from pulling very hard moves. So, if you are up against him, its basically a choice of forcing him off or being forced off by him. Same goes for Verstappen. Probably also Magnussen. TLDR i think the stewards should also take into account who is fighting.

      1. The last thing we all need is the stewards to take into account who’s driving when issuing penalties.

        1. Exactly thats crazy you judge the action not the person.

          1. Agree, the stewards need to officiate the driving – judging the drivers is what the internet is for.

      2. @mrboerns, no, that is a terrible idea – as a matter of principal, the rules should be applied evenly and without prejudice to every individual irrespective of who they are.

  6. Agreed. The handling of that incident sends the message that it’s okay to push someone off, as long as you only do it once. And that’s a dangerous precedent.

  7. I don’t have a problem with the flag in principle but the fact that Leclerc then went on to cut the chicane and move in the braking zone afterwards shows it isnt really a yellow flag at all.

    On the strength of it’s effectiveness in Monza I propose it be named the As You Were flag.

    1. Leclerc then went on to cut the chicane

      They looked at that and deemed he didn’t gain an advantage.

      1. @keithcollantine I’m not sure I totally buy that. His lock up seemed pretty identical to Hamilton’s lock up a few laps later. The difference is, after Hamilton’s little jink to the right he selected the escape road, instead of cutting the corner cutting him significantly more time than Leclerc lost. Nothing in Leclerc’s incident makes me think he couldn’t have made the escape road.

        1. Knowing that Leclerc did that a few laps before and that he hasn’t got any penality, why hasn’t Hamilton choosen to do the same ?
          He wouldn’t have loss more time.
          He has made a choice.
          It’s his responsability.
          So why complain ?
          He could do the same as Leclerc, he hadn’t.
          End of the story.
          What bothers me here is that Hamilton complains a lot “blablabla rules, and stuff”, but he did used the limits of the rules before.
          Rosberg can tel it for exemple at Canada, Barhein, Austin.
          Hamilton didn’t seem to be bothered by pushing someone aside at this time.

          What about when he fought Schumacher at Monza in 2011 ?
          Schumacher was harsh with him too.
          He could have remember it and know that he would happen again …

          1. Lewis battles with Rosberg were fair.

            Canada in 2014 it was Rosberg who forced Lewis off the circuit and also cut the last chicane
            Bahrain at Turn 5 Lewis was ahead and on the racing line its up to Rosberg to see it through or back out
            Austin at the start at Turn 1 Lewis was ahead and on the racing line its up to Rosberg to see it through or back out.

            The 2011 Schumacher incident was totally different because Schumacher was defending aggressively and made so many double defensive moves that the FIA did nothing until they contacted RB who told Schumacher to let Lewis pass before Ascari

      2. Under the banner of “let them race”, I’d like to see racing under the guidelines of “no harm, no foul”, but if there is harm of any sort, the offending driver can only finish behind any car they have harmed.

  8. If you ask me the black and white is exactly what F1 needs. It doesnt replace whether the stewards issue a penalty, it complements it. The description that Masi uses, similar to a yellow flag in football, is spot on. A yellow flag in soccer is a formal warning for a substantial foul, but the player that commits the foul is effectively allowed to play on. Same goes for drivers here. The flag is also for those grey areas, where a driver may be very close to committing a foul (or indeed right on the line of whats acceptable) but is allowed to continue.

    The real advantage of showing a driver the black and white flag rather than issuing a penalty is that it introduces discretion into the mix, without excluding the potential for a penalty.

    If Leclerc was issued a time penalty, as Vettel incurred in Canada, we would have been robbed of a brilliant race in Monza. The tension that came with seeing whether Leclerc could hold off the two Mercedes drivers for some 40 odd laps after the pit stops made the race absolutely riveting, and probably one of the best races of the season. If Leclerc had been slapped with a 5s penalty it would have been a massive anti-climax, and there would be no point watching the rest of the race.

    1. It isn’t really the same as football.
      A yellow card in football is clearly associated with breaking the rules, and except in a few cases (e.g. when the ball is out of play) it is on top of a punishment (in the form of a free kick). It is also always a punishment in favour in the opposition which is only 1 team.
      As noted, if the move is illegal it should come with a punishment. If the move Leclerc did was illegal, and he did it again to Bottas and was punished, Bottas would (probably) have gone onto win the race. But why should Bottas get “retribution” but not potentially Hamilton?

      1. It is like football because the yellow card is separate to whether there is a penalty or free kick, it is a final warning and in football it means that player has to play more carefully for the rest of the game, without actually affecting the result. Back to the F1 I understand why it was used here, in my opinion not worthy of a penalty on it’s own

    2. Agree 100% with this. I have to laugh at someone above saying an incident is black or white, legal or not legal. F1 is not a game of chess, there’s a whole heap of subjectivity to many of these incidents. The Max/Leclerc incident in Austria was right up there as one where people had radically different opinions based on viewing the exact same footage. Heck even I had varying opinions based on what camera angle I watched, what freeze frame I looked at and even playing the footage back at different speeds gives you different perceptions of an incident!

      Yeah Leclerc pushed Hamiltonoff the track, just, but I felt not enough to warrant a significant penalty that would have stripped us of an engaging exciting race. For me the flag is a warning to reign it back in and not to push things so close to (or just over) the limit again and I think that is absolutely right. If Leclerc had forced Hamilton even wider then we’re into penalty territory, sure!

      There’s just too much gray space around the rules and how you implement them in a dynamic arena such as motorsport. Things change even every metre as you go around a track, what is the inside line can switch to the outside line in a matter of metres, as cars travel at 200mph. It’s dynamic and the rules cannot always be implemented in such a black and white way. For me if we actually want some element of excitement in this sport then what happened at Monza to me is just the right way to go about it. Otherwise no one will even bother trying last minute lunges or whatever. They’ll all give each other a super wide berth and that will be that. Who wants to watch that?

      1. Completely agree. There are incidents almost every race that are clearly not black or white. I could name many off the top of my head here and trigger heated debates amongst fans with polarised views.

        Often, you’ll get ex-driver pundits disagreeing and debating the subject for hours on TV. Further, you often hear commentators giving their opinions, only for the stewards to do the opposite a lap or so later. This shows that there are blurred lines and interpretation/opinion is a large factor in applying the rules – even the paid professionals cannot always agree.

        I think Masi may have done himself a misfavour by likening the black and white flag to a yellow card, however. This gives the impression that once is OK, twice and you’re penalised, as some comments have said. Masi has clearly stated, however, that this is not the case; an incident that receives a black/white may also be penalised. Similarly, there is no guarantee that two black/whites equals a penalty. I think this is great – it warns the drivers that their behaviour may lead to a penalty, and lets the drivers race hard without having to apply a hard, black-and-white interpretation of the rulebook.

        1. @daviddesu @barnstable1 – By ‘black or white,’ I don’t think Keith or at least some of the others mean that everything is always easily identifiable as legal or not. Discussion is often necessary. Rather, I think that they mean that at some point (immediately, post-discussion, post-review, post talking with drivers…) it is understood as legal or not. And that the same move made again would be ruled the same way.

          Meaning, the move that Leclerc made is either legal or not at the end of the day. And whatever decision is reached (in this case it appears it was deemed legal), that should be applied going forward. So, since it was legal, Leclerc or anyone else should be allowed to make the same move. If that’s the case, why the flag? That’s the issue.

          Decisions on legality may or may not be difficult. But it either is or isn’t. I think that is the argument being made.

          1. However, there are things which are not legal, yet are not punished. For instance, cutting corners and leaving the track are only punished of the stewards feel an advantage has been gained. If a driver gains a place by leaving the track, they can avoid any penalty by giving the place back.

            There are also times when stewards or the race director give a warning to the driver. These are not always broadcast.

            I believe that the black and white flag is potentially a good thing. If used to signify warnings, or in situations where something is on the verge of breaking the rules, I think the additional visibility is a good thing. I do have some caveats to this, though. Itt should always be accompanied by a reason so everyone knows why, and it should be issued by the stewards, not the race director.

            Someone has cut a corner a few times, bw flag to remind them. Someone has gained a place by leaving the track, bw flag to tell them to give the place back. Someone is battling right on the limit and pulling moves which get close to breaking the rules, bw flag to remind them not to go any further.

            On the subject of names, my wife came up with a great one which we will continue to use: the “Stop being a Richard!” flag (replace Richard with its shortened version beginning with D).

        2. “it warns the drivers that their behaviour may lead to a penalty, and lets the drivers race hard without having to apply a hard, black-and-white interpretation of the rulebook”

          Actually it allows the leading driver to race without worry of a penalty. The chasing driver now has another impediment to passing on top of all the existing ones.

    3. Yep, this post reflects my thoughts also.

  9. Agreed. The black & white flag was a cop out. I am not keen that these youngsters (Max & Leclerc) seem to have no regard to standard driving etiquette. I think a driver shows far more skill & class if they can defend/overtake without resorting to shoving their opponent off track. Unlike the hysterical masses, i wasn’t impressed by Leclerc’s drive in Italy

    1. @amam
      What does: “standard driving etiquette” mean?
      Driving like Schumacher, Hunt, Villeneuve (Giles), Ayrton, Prost, Alonso?

  10. Agreed. Whilst I have seen the black and white flag used well (the Aitken incident in the F2 sprint race – where Aitken was weaving to break the tow and so was given a black and white flag to show that this was not the correct interpretation of the rules). Likewise, as said above, with corner-cutting and so on. But to use it at times like this is just setting a dangerous precedent.

  11. We can call it the ‘Masi Flag’ if he’s the only person who’s going to see any relevance in it. I think someone needs a quiet word in his ear on this and between the FIA and FOM come up with something that presents a consistent and understandable message, this cries of we’re now entering “The Masi Show” and that we ought to respect the new race director and his fresh approach to racing.

    My biggest gripe however is the timing of it, F1 is the only major sport that introduces rule changes mid season, it’s bonkers. Why couldn’t Masi discuss it with stakeholders and put it into practice next season after briefing the media so viewers can hope to understand why an incident would be worth a drive through in China but a cool flag in Italy. There’s absolutely no way a major sports league or governing body is making changes of this magnitude during a season without explaining to the athletes, media and spectators, none, but this is F1 they say…

    1. @alec-glen

      My biggest gripe however is the timing of it, F1 is the only major sport that introduces rule changes mid season, it’s bonkers.

      I agree its bonkers, but its part of the sport, and has been for a very long time. If you want to watch a sport where the rules haven’t ever changed you can always watch tennis!

      1. @tomcat173 – Hawkeye reviews. Tennis rules have changed. :)

    2. @alec-glen

      My biggest gripe however is the timing of it, F1 is the only major sport that introduces rule changes mid season, it’s bonkers.

      I agree that rules should never be changed mid-season (unless for serious safety reasons).

      However, in this case he is not changing the rules. The black and white flag has always been there, able to be used, and just wasn’t. He has decided to use an existing “rule” in a slightly different way. This is no different in principal to the technical bulletins which clarify an existing rule.

      Rules should not change (except as noted above). Interpretations of rules can and will change at times.

  12. “Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position offline, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

    This is exactly why this type of incident is treated differently to those where a driver is forced off-track on corner-exit. Baffles me how many people, many of which I’m sure aren’t new to motorsport, treat both scenarios equally.

    1. Yes, people are not grasping that Leclerc forced Hamilton off on corner entry…which is far worse

      1. Plus the fact that Hamilton was already there and Leclerc went to try cause an accident.
        This problem was caused by the FIA. Had they in the past warned drivers about their driving, we all will be fine with the outcome, but for far more insignificant misdeeds other drivers have been penalised.
        I knew what the stewards were feeling because even I didn’t want Leclerc to get a penalty, despite knowing he had crossed a few red lines in the race.

    2. Although, looking at that rule, there is one word that stands out to me like a sore thumb:

      “Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position offline, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

      Why not “must”? There shouldn’t be any “should”s in a rulebook!

  13. Jose Lopes da Silva
    12th September 2019, 12:58

    The rules are not clear for the anyone, I guess. Leclerc did not move “back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position offline”, because he was following the normal racing line. Curva Grande and Roggia are excellent for these confusions – just watch the Alonso and Vettel fights there in 2011 and 2012 – as every place where the racing line is crossing the track.

    However, Hamilton was already side-by-side. Behind, but Hamilton’s front was ahead Leclerc’s rear. Isn’t there a rule saying that, if this is the case, the defending driver should leave space (a car’s width?)

  14. Jose Lopes da Silva
    12th September 2019, 13:00

    Anyway, unclear rules are part of the DNA of Formula 1. Everyone loves to keep debating about this later. We’re about to start the 30 years celebration of the move under braking by Prost, as per Verstappen critics.

    1. unclear rules are part of the DNA of Formula 1

      That’s hard to argue against!

  15. The let them race attitude seems a cop out to let poor drivers with poor standards crash their way to the very top of the sport. If you allow drivers to weave across the track and barge others off when alongside you’ll never see another genuine pass. Likewise if a driver can’t control their car and keep it in the white lines then they should be penalised (in dry conditions). Cutting a corner because you messed up your braking to gain back the time you should have lost by making the corner needs to be a standard 5 second penalty too.

    We should reward the fastest drivers who can get as close to the edge as possible without a mistake, not the ones who abuse the rules to their advantage. As long as the drivers know the rules then they’ll drive to them. It’s also not the place for drivers to make the rules so they should provide feedback to the stewards and that should be managed internally rather than the clown court of crying to the press we have. The Vettel Canada incident was a joke and he should have been given a race ban for bringing the sport into disrepute imo. I’m sure the anti Hamilton crowd would agree to liking to hear less complaints about stewarding decisions from him too.

  16. I believed you already had the answer for the first question. Black-and-white flag is not a tool to force regulation, it’s Masi’s personal emoji.
    On second question I proposed: ‘unsportlyhood’.

  17. The stewards have been consistently inconsistent of late. It’s getting frustrating to watch. Ok, they want to be more lenient and let them race – I get that – but it shouldn’t be at the expense of allowing drivers to push the boundaries more and more of what is and what isn’t legal. Even considering that, the same thing needs to receive the same penalty.

    Black and white rules need black and white penalties. If you do X, Y will happen. The perfect example of this is the Stroll and Vettel incident in Monza. Both Stroll and Vettel broke exactly the same rule, they both rejoined the track in an unsafe manner. There are no degrees to this, you either join it safely or you don’t – how the drivers approaching react to it is beyond your control. Both rejoined unsafely and both should have received the same harsh penalty (in my opinion this should always be a 10 second S&G, as it is incredible dangerous).

    An unsafe release is an unsafe release, regardless of who did it, where it is and how it affected the following car. Somehow LeClerc gets a fine and then they say they’ll never do it again – you can’t justify this.

    There are rules like pit lane speed limits where you get an increased fine based on miles over. This is a good system (although not perfect) and an example of an area where a graded system is appropriate.

    I used to run a successful racing esports website and this is one thing we had to get right from the start to grow. We kept a log of every incident and every penalty and were 100% consistent with our decision making. Last time this happened driver X got penalty Y, let’s do the same again. I am not an expert, and there weren’t real life pressures attached to it like a Ferrari racing at Monza, for example.

    The first time something happens, it sets a precedent. This precedent should then be followed, unless there is a good explanation for otherwise or an agreed change in general that we want to change the precedent. The stewards and governing body should definitely have the backbone to punish a Ferrari at Monza if they need to. If they don’t they lose all credibility and fans and viewers get annoyed and confused.

    And yes, I do speak as a Hamilton fan. I am rightly aggrieved that one move that has been penalised several times before didn’t get penalised. I am also aggrieved that the reactionary move to block through curva grande also went unpunished when it could have caused an airplane crash. Yes we don’t want to see penalties changing results, but not at the expense of the rules not being enforced and the danger level going through the roof. And many fans of other drivers would be aggrieved if the situation(s) happened to their driver.

    We want to see the best drivers in the world fighting each other within the rules and those rules being applied consistently.

    1. Well thought and worded response @djdaveyp87 – thanks.

    2. An unsafe release is an unsafe release, regardless of who did it, where it is and how it affected the following car.

      @djdaveyp87 @ahxshades Completely agree. It is so frustrating knowing that stewarding decisions are being influenced by the outcome of the incident (e.g. contact or no contact), or by surrounding circumstances. An incident should only ever be judged by the action(s) that caused it to occur.

    3. “Stroll and Vettel broke exactly the same rule”

      They did but not the same circumstances at all. Stroll was 1/2 on the track/racing line, vet was fully off the track. Stroll moving – especially after Spa – when he was side on to traffic is very different he was in a dangerous position and between a rock and a hard place if he did/didn’t move.

      1. His car has a reverse gear… So does Vettel’s.

        1. R is v slow/difficult to engag

          1. So, because of this everybody else’s safety must be compromised?

    4. Jose Lopes da Silva
      12th September 2019, 17:20

      This is why the subject is fascinating and endless. Leclerc is at fault, in my opinion. Not because he was doing a back move, but because Hamilton was side-by-side and Leclerc did not leave room.

      But a block in Curva Grande? How is that? Leclerc was following the racing line, and the other car was not side by side. Do the rules say that you can’t follow normal racing line when there is someone attacking you?

      1. Are you kidding me? LeClerc waited until Hamilton chose a side to attack and then he moved to block the direction. That is not following the racing line, that is deviating from it in a defensive move, which is fine as long as you don’t do it in reaction to your attacker – which is exactly what he did.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          13th September 2019, 1:56

          We’re talking about Curva Grande, not Roggia braking, right?

          “as long as you don’t do it in reaction to your attacker”
          You can’t defend after the attacker moved?
          You change your line once, not twice – but if the attacker moved first, you can’t change line?
          Maybe. Sorry, I don’t know the rules book. Doesn’t make sense to me. How can you defend, then? Only by guessing that, if the guy is over there, he might attack so I protect a line?

          1. 2 objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. It is definitely not OK to drive into someone, whether you are “taking the racing line” or not. In this case had Hamilton not moved out of the way Leclerc would have driven into him. Racing line or not.

            I’ve always hated that excuse. If a car is already alongside you, you cannot just continue as if he wasn’t there.

            For myself, I think a warning was justified here. Hamilton managed to react quickly and there was no incident, but it was dangerous driving from Leclerc. He’s even admitted that he intended to leave a car’s width, so if nothing else it was a mistake on his part and he admits that he should have left enough space…

      2. Leclerc was weaving all through, constantly changing his lines.

  18. Leclerc should have received a penalty but didn’t. I’m content just to move on and swallow it up in the context of consistent inconsistencies in how the rules are applied. Once an accident happens F1 will apply the rules more stringently and then hit reverse once the build-up of criticism gets too much, and from there the cycle will continue.

    1. Sad, but true. And some spectators make me feel like in Rome back in the “Panis et circenses” age, this “let them race” is too close to “let them kill or dieso I can get some satisfaction”.

  19. Jonathan Edwards
    12th September 2019, 13:07

    Well-written article. However, I must take umbrage with you stating that a “move is black or white – legal or not.”

    I certainly allow that if one has a set of regulations defining what is legally permissible during a race, then it follows that any incident can be determined to be legal or not. However, one only has to read the Sporting Regulations and the ISC, and the sheer inadequacy of both is readily apparent.

    Moves on a racing circuit occur at different speeds, with varying levels of visibility, trajectory, control, and consequence. There is no way to adequately group various types of incidents into neatly defined regulations that always ascertain the legality of the incident. Or, perhaps more pertinent, there is no way to quantify the consequences of all incidents beforehand. Two transgressions of the same sporting regulation can occur with two vastly different outcomes. In a sport that places the very lives of the participants, officials, and spectators in danger, possible outcomes should matter.

    Did Max break any sporting regulations when he moved over on Kimi at Spa a few years ago? No. But it was one of the most dangerous moves in recent F1 history. A perfect opportunity for something like a black and white flag, which could certainly be used to point out to a driver that he did something that should not be repeated, whether defined by a regulation or not.

    Also, we accept some moves as being legal, and some as not, without any regard to the consequences. Fans harp about a move such as Leclerc made at Monza, that have little possibility of a dire consequence. Yet we accept that a racer can push another off track at the exit of a corner if they have the inside line, a la Verstappen on Leclerc earlier this season. Or as Hamilton habitually did to Rosberg, and as Rosberg awkwardly tried to do to Hamilton. Or, see Vettel and Alonso at Monza. These moves are hardly ever penalized, when the consequences of them could potentially be vastly more dire, due to the speed involved in many of them.

    Unless someone finds a way to write regulations that better encapsulate incidents, we have to put up with gray areas. We’ve already accepted this in one form – racing incidents. A black and white flag is useful if it can be used in the right context.

  20. My suggestion: STD flag – “Spontaneous Temporary Decision”
    It will liven up races and post-races Interviews!

    Pundit: So, tell us – how did your race go?
    Driver X: I made a silly error on my first Lap, spun around, and then had to chase the pack. Once I caught them, the action heated up, I wasn’t careful and got STD in the end.
    Pundit: STD? Yeah, bad luck!

  21. Disagree 100% @keithcollantine . Something can be illegal yet not deserve immediate punishment. There’s such a thing in traffic law that’s called a warning ticket. Meaning, we don’t give you a fine and points now but if you do it again wihin the next X years you’ll get the full punishment.

    What’s wrong with such a thing in racing? Is it better to ruin racing with stupid penalties that most fans hate like in Montreal?

    And it’s not like the black and white flag wasn’t used in racing recently. it’s just F1 that didn’t make use of it lately while other forms of motorsport like dtm have done so with great success

    1. These aren’t a bunch of people given basic training and a license to drive at speeds limits in cars that are well within the safe tolerances of their vehicles.

      These are the best drivers in the world, with advanced training, extreme knowledge of what they are doing, driving on the edge of their cars’ performance. A high standard should be expected of them, and if they can’t meet it, they should be penalised or they shouldn’t be there at all.

      1. @djdaveyp87 On the contrary. these drivers are fighting at speeds of over 300 kph within inches of one another while being constantly on the edge of adhesion in cars with poor field of vision . So they should be given the benefit of the doubt and in certain situations a warning is the correct punishment. Otherwise half of the great battles wouldn’t happen because of drivers being afraid of penalties and the other half would be decided by penalties. This is not the F1 anyone wants to see. As I said before, black and white flag was successfully used in other types of motorsport and previously was used in f1 as well so why not use it again? Enough of the nanny state!

        1. If a driver is scared of penalties he has no confidence in his own ability and should go home.

          ‘Nanny State’ is exactly the type of trash people throw around when things don’t go their way.

          Rules are rules, if you break them accept the consequences – else don’t break them!

          1. Rules are rules, if you break them accept the consequences – else don’t break them!


            If the rules aren’t enforced, it’s no longer a sport. Anyone could win a race if he did doughnuts on the start/finish line until he’d crossed it enough times. Anyone could win a race if he broke all the technical rules and built a vastly superior car which could ram everyone off the track (or mount machine guns to take out the competition).

            However, we have rules which must be obeyed, and they define the sport. Acting outside the rules is no longer participating in the sport.

          2. @djdaveyp87 Black and white flag rule is also a rule. It doesn’t make it any less a rule because you don’t like it. I didn’t like it when there was no black and white flag so what?

            A warning is a punishment in itself. Always has been and always will be in all forms of endeavor and in motorsport as well where it has been used successfully as I repeatedly said above. As long as it’s used consistently and as long as drivers understand that it’s a final warning before substantial penalty then it’s the correct way to do things. Not every foul deserves a straight red card , simple as that. Were it up to people like you and @keithcollantine most of the great battles of the ages in F1 would never have happened. Villeneuve and Arnoux would’ve probably been penalised 10 times over in Dijon 1979. Senna would’ve been penalised over Monaco 1992 etc. etc.

            Go on, call this black and white flag rule “nanny state” . You don’t like it, things don’t go your way, and that’s , after all, what the “nanny state” expression is all about , according to you, people don’t like things that don’t go their way. Educate yourself, throw away the trash and learn that nanny state means unnecessary level of interference by the government in the lives of free citizens that impinges on their freedom. Which is exactly how F1 was lately before the black and white flag re-introduction. Long may it stay! And if you and Keith don’t like it, tough. You can never please everyone.

  22. I blame Martin Brundle.

    I was re-watching the British GP yesterday and registered something I missed – or rather, didn’t retain in my memory as it had little significance – the first time round… during the Leclerc/Verstappen battle, he said something along the lines of ‘we could do with a warning flag’ for stuff that was on the border between OK and not OK. A few weeks later, we have a ‘warning flag’.

    Might be a coincidence but maybe Masi was listening and it planted a seed.

    1. Yes, i also blame Brundle for his over the top hysterical reaction to Vettel’s penalty in Canada. That got the masses frothing at the mouth…to the extent that the stewards were afraid to penalise Max in Austria….which in turn led to this “let them race”mantra…..which in turn led to Leclerc committing one of the cardinal sins of F1 in Monza…squeezing driver on corner entry/braking

      1. Given the usual vehemence of the Italian press and many Ferrari fans fueled by it @neilosjames and @amam, I am not so sure one can fully blame it on Brundle, but I do agree that he does certainly carries a large part of the blame.

        In fact, as he has grown older (I think), I have noted that I was very happy last year to only use the F1tv app on mute, or even the German RTL commentary because it was more on point, the Dutch early this year because they have a clear Max bias but are otherwise enthusiastic about racing, or the bbc 5 live radio commentary from the F1 timing app who tend to be descriptive rather than unevenly judgmental. It used to be that Crofty was the weakest link in the commentary booth at Sky, but those weekends when Brundle wasn’t there, the level of commentary tended to be more solid this last year. (sorry, bit of a rant ;)

  23. Following on from Masi’s comments that the lack of contact (thanks to Hamilton’s actions) was a contributing factor in Leclerc not receiving a penalty…

    What if Hamilton hadn’t taken avoiding action and received 1.) minor 2.) major 3.) race-ending damage to his car directly from Leclerc as a result of Leclerc’s actions?

    What if Hamilton took avoiding action, but in doing so lost control of his car and received 1.) minor 2). major 3.) race-ending damage?

    What if, as a result of minor or major damage, or just having to go off-track, Hamilton had lost 1 position? Or 2 positions? Or 3? etc…

    Do all the above scenarios warrant a black and white flag? Do only some warrant a white flag and others a penalty?

    Been an avid follow of F1 for 23 years and I don’t believe I’ve ever been so confused about the rulebook and its implementation.

    1. @ninjenius I think this is a very good point. If Hamilton had not managed to avoid Leclerc and had either lost places or was knocked out entirely then I think Leclerc would almost certainly have been given a proper penalty. However, because Lewis avoided him I think Charles got away with the warning flag under this new procedure.

      The important point is I think, that if the more reckless drivers think they can get away with this kind of thing once then it is just going to permit them to take greater risks which could be really dangerous. So I think the B&W flag for this kind of incident is a really bad idea.

      By all means have the flag available for things like track limits or maybe pit lane exit but not for serious incidents like this. This however, leads me onto my second point.

      Maybe the 5 second stop go penalty is too severe a punishment which really hurts the racing spectacle. This being the reason we have ended up with the B&W flag option. So it’s a now a case of either all (the penalty) or nothing (the flag). Should perhaps there be an adjustment to the rules to make the punishment for this a drive through penalty or seconds added instead? I think the whole rules/penalties issue is a bit of a minefield.

      1. @phil-f1-21 if rosberg had not avoided Ham in bahrain. If every single driver Senna raced against had not chicken out. Montoya couldn’t be around Schumi without getting a penalty. Lobbyists are doing this to F1
        LET THEM RACE.

    2. @ninjenius – good questions, and it goes to illustrate the (unnecessary) slippery slope of complexity that occurs when we start bringing “consequences” into judging a sporting regulations violation. Not just for B/W flags, but other stewarding decisions as well (I’m still annoyed at some of the irrationally lenient penalties in the pitlane).

  24. I cannot stress enough how much I hate when a driver doesn’t leave space for the other guy next to him. I hated when Hamilton shoved Rosberg off several times, I hated when Verstappen did it to Leclerc in Austria, Sainz on Albon this race, Leclerc on Hamilton this race as well. This is simply not good racing to me.

    The argument I hear against that is: “hard racing”, “It was the first, second, third…last lap”, “he was entitled to the racing line”. And we also see the same people doing it over and over and on the other side you have racing like Leclerc vs Gasly and Leclerc vs Verstappen (except the part he shoved him off) in Silverstone or Ricciardo (every time I believe?) who just somehow manage to avoid all this controversy and race with surgical precision with another car.

    1. I completely agree with this. They brought in the ‘significant portion of car alongside’ rule and they never enforce it.

      When Albon was forced off the track at Lesmo 1, that was not hard racing. Hard racing would have been leaving him (just enough) space and trying to stay on the inside and hold him off. That was, simply put, punting him off the track. Albon had a significant part of his car alongside and was entitled to space. You can’t ‘return to your line’ if another car is occupying that space – it’s ludicrous!

  25. Hamilton isn’t perfect, he’s had his fair share of scrapes & collisions, but i struggle to recall him squeezing a driver on corner entry/braking (certainly not recently). What Leclerc did in Monza was far worse than what Max did in Austria. Austria was corner exit, Monza was corner entry…big difference

    1. Jonathan Edwards
      12th September 2019, 18:42

      Yes, different in that the potential consequences for the Leclerc move were far less severe than the consequences of the Verstappen move.

      I cannot fathom why we’ve decided we can allow pushing other drivers off at the exit of corners, but not at the entry, independent of speed, off-track obstacles, etc.

      1. Because cars are much less stable under braking that acceleration. It’s simply very unsafe to force a car under braking to have to make a manoeuvre but under acceleration it’s not unsafe in the slightest.

    2. I can’t fathom how much dirtier it is what max did, anyway no penalty for me even if the justification was dumb, fia never makes penalties for cars of the same team, rosberg and ham at austria. egregious is what happened in Canada

  26. It’s obvious we need more flexibility in declaring driver behaviour in such incidents as either slightly dodgy, really dodgy, seriously dodgy or absolutely abominable. I propose a set of black and white flags with different proportions of black-to-white area to distinguish them from each other. That would enable the level of nuance that is needed to keep everybody happy, wouldn’t it?

    1. An F1-level solution to an F1 problem ;)

    2. This made me lol so much… worth of CoTD! Almost akin to sprinklers and shortcuts.

  27. I’m perfectly ok with the one time free pass of this black-white flag.
    I believe one of the issues of F1 was the amount of penalties for driving reaching the ridiculous in Canada where the first driver to cross the line didn’t win because of an infraction that would be irrelevant in the first 60 years of F1.

    I don’t like penalties inside the race. In my opinion they should apply only to really serious issues (like Vettel Vs Hamilton in Azerbaijan last year).

    The black and white flag is not perfect but is better than “you step slightly over the line -> you get a penalty and loose the race”

  28. one thing is for sure: understanding what happened in austria and monza it was absolutely unfair to punish vettel in canada. what verstappen did in austria and leclerc in monza was much more over the “limit” than in vettel’s case. we can change the approach, we can introduce a new “yellow card”, but not in the middle of a season. stewarding this season is ridiculous, masi’s responsibility in this is undeniable

  29. Isn’t the point of a black and white, color that when mixed result in grey, to purposely create a grey area?

    I think we need to start accepting that in this sport we can’t really have black or white judgments, from the fake Mercedes pitstops to the on-track battles between Charles and Max. At Silverstone we had an amazing race with a memorable battle between the two but I’m sure if we analyze it strictly there was room for some sanctions.

    We need to have a grey are, something that can be used during the race to continue without depriving us of a good show.

  30. Completely agree! All I take from a black/white flag is “we are not going to penalize YOU” for this, this time. We might next time, or we might the FIRST time for someone else.

  31. What I don’t fully get is this – under Charlie, he would inform the pit wall about a warning for a driver, which would then be passed on by the race engineer to the driver (“Alonso, that was our last warning for running wide at T3”).

    Does the B/W flag replace it? Or, is it meant to be complementary, i.e. to give a proactive signal to the driver that he’s been warned, and he can get in touch with the pit wall to understand the specifics?

    PS: I offer “Naughty boy flag” as my suggestion.

  32. I am also totally fine with a black and white flag. I don’t think a situation where the cars did not touch, at low speeds, should ruin the race with a penalty. Had he done something serious again, then he should be penalized. For sure if this was in a higher speed corner and had a greater chance of danger, the outcome should have been different. Honestly in the grand scheme of things, I think this move has been blown out of proportions.

  33. Just let the stewards get on with the job they were doing fine.

    And let’s get real. Leclerc wasn’t penalized because it was Monza. Aside from generating a bunch of angry Italian fans, and being on the receiving end of Ferrari appeals, litigation etc. for the next month, Formula 1 depends on big money and nobody wanted to ‘ruin’ the race for Ferrari, Monza and the Tifosi by applying the rules properly. Awarding a penalty against Barcelona at Camp Nou may be ‘uncomfortable’ for the refs, but it isn’t a financial issue. For Formula 1, the economics is always close to the surface. Fortunately the (minor) distortion isn’t relevant to the championship – actually why having the final races in more neutral places (until there’s a Brazilian or Mexican WDC contender again maybe) makes some sense.

    1. @david-br

      And let’s get real. Leclerc wasn’t penalized because it was Monza.

      They used the same warning for the similar Perez & Albon incident at Spa the week before so I don’t think the decision had anything to do with Leclerc been in a Ferrari in Monza.

      1. I’m not talking about the first incident alone, though, but a ‘warning’ for pushing Hamilton off track followed by weaving and chicane cutting. The latter could be seen as a different type of incident, not ‘unsporting’, just seeking to get an advantage after a mistake, so maybe that wouldn’t classify as a ‘repeat,’ but weaving clearly is unsporting (and dangerous). Like I said above, let’s see how this pans out. I’m just sceptical that this will resolve anything, and I think the stewards and Masi come across as nervous and indecisive about what to do after the heavy criticism they took at Canada and subsequently.

  34. After Monza Michael Masi did some analysis with Anthony Davidson at the Sky pad & explained why he likes the B&W flag & why it was used for the Hamilton/Leclerc incident. He also explains why Vettel & Stroll received different penalties (10 second stop/gp & drive-thru) for the unsafe rejoins.

    1. @stefmeister Where he explains that the key element is ‘contact.’ Which means a driver being pushed off track will be less inclined to bail out of the collision if they know that the rival’s move, crowding them off track, will go unpenalized if there is no contact. Seems an odd decision.

      1. @david-br: Odd, indeed. Masi, becoming the reactionary populist FIA director of racing.

        Maybe that’s the way forward… not fan boost, but Liberty could introduce the Populist Penalty System. Under PPS a driver could be penalized for being the wrong driver at the wrong place at the wrong time…

    2. I agree, oh the irony, black and white, ying yang flag, is it one thing or the other.
      Seriously, Whiting took many roles, his job description is antiquated and you are not going to find someone with his touch these days, as much as we used to moan. Whiting’s job should have been restructured and assigned to specialized substitutes. Unfortunately Masi has been responsible for many blunders, f1 can’t afford to wait for Masi to evolve if he is even able to do so. The weirdest penalties and inconsistencies, inane explanations for the inconsistencies, unacceptable delay in Hungary, manhole covers, the kerb at Monza, and probably more.
      In time he’ll learn that doing VAR with the super not unbias sky might bite him back.

  35. It should be called Schrödinger’s flag to signify a move that is both legal and illegal at the same time…

    1. Love it, ‘Shrödingers’ flag. The Monza syndrome. From other replies: ‘He left Hamilton enough space’. This a blatant lie, Rewind the incident and look how Hamilton, wheels interlocked (and due to his years of experience and extreme rapid reaction) only just avoided a major collision, which would have had an sorry end for both of them to the otherwise fine race up to then. Charles is an excellent driver, but this was one of his unnecessary moves. With his straight line rocketship, he would have Lewis back in no time – That stupid flag meant nothing. It’s a wave, no it’s a particle – dualism of matter.

    2. @gnosticbrian – that is just brilliant. I love it :)

  36. So basically the bw flag means nothing except “hey boy don’t forget we’re watching you!”

  37. We don’t need a flag. It’s just a tool for Masi hide behind. When something happens they can just call the team and tell them that the driver is on the edge. Or they can investigate the action and decide no action/penalty. Now he doesn’t have to do anything with the flag and can say:”look, I did something.” Something pointless in racing.

  38. Out of the three incident in 17, 18 and 19 only one got penalized…..
    17, Stroll pushing Massa on the green in turn, no action
    18, Verstappen going wide into turn one, the above picture clearly showed Bottas had at least 30 cm of room left before going of track… a penalty for Verstappen
    19, Leclerc pushing Lewis wide, half the car of track and forcing Lewis to take an evasive route, no action

    Verstappen being penalized after an unsafe release while Bottas didn’t do anything to prevent the collision, Leclerc (Ferrari) was handed only a fine after an unsafe release, despite Grojean trying to avoid the collision by braking hard, they touched.

    The FIA really have to sort out this inconsistency, Verstappen was actually right when mentioning the FIA tried to kill racing. Therefore to my opinion the black/white flag is a proper way to say…one more time and will get that penalty.
    In general penalties simply take away all excitement, drivers putting their cars there where they know it will get tight…knowing a penalty looms, instead of giving a penalty right away a driver get’s an official warning and we race on.

  39. Well I for one am not confused. It’s always existed, theyre just using more now, which is good. How many times in recent years have we heard that the stewards gave issued a warning during s race anyway? This is the same but more official.

  40. What’s also confusing is that Leclerc gets the black and white flag and then blocks Hamilton again in Curva Grande and then swerving left and right before going into the chicane. That was quite clearly dirty driving too.

  41. You get a penalty if you do it again, how is this confusing? It seems very clear to me.

    1. @paeschli Because that didn’t happen. Leclerc showed more dirty driving a few laps later and … nothing.

  42. This so called yellow card flag should be last warning before you get disqualified, no 5 seconds penalty, no drive through, just box box and go home.

  43. I think the stewards should have a yellow flag for incidents that should really be punished but on this occasion they are too scared to issue a penalty because of ‘reasons’.

  44. Call it the Mr. Magoo flag as the driver and the race director are acting like Mr. Magoo.

    I am against the flag. Take the following scenario which could have happened at Monza.
    The leading cars have already made their last stop for a race. Hamilton is sent off the track and picks up all the crap on his tires. He can’t challenge Leclerc again. Leclerc gets the Mr. Magoo flag. Bottas now challenges Leclerc. (next is a what if) Leclerc sends Bottas off the track. Bottas picks up all the crap on his tires and can’t challenge. However, since this is a 2nd Magoo, Leclerc gets a 5 second penalty and Bottas wins. In this scenario, the 1st driver that is sent off does not get the same benefit that the 2nd driver to be sent off gets.

    When the above scenario finally happens we will see a change. It will most likely be VER and LEC battling up front with HAM hanging out in 3rd doing his lift and coast thing and HAM getting the win because he is the 2nd driver to be adversely affected during a Magoo. The fans will not be happy when HAM wins this way.

  45. “Driver Warning Flag”, and give a penalty point. Then it means something.

  46. With acknowledgement and apologies to Roger Hargreaves, I think the flag should be known as “Mr. Messy”.
    Apologies also to those non-binary gender fluid etc. etc.

    1. That was a weird segue, something you want to get off your chest?

  47. Warning flags, good. But Leclerc did several questionable moves in last race. Some after the flag.

    What do we want to see, what type of racing? 2011 Schumacher closed Hamilton correctly, gave him some room on the outside of the same corner. What ensued was excellent wheel to wheel racing.

    In this case Leclerc effectively stooped Hamilton. Very hard to judge. If Hamilton would have done the same to Leclerc I would imagine there would be a penalty in it. But then again Hamilton wouldn’t do that, because he places car better. He would leave car width and then run him out on the gravel by mid corner. Is that alright either?

    Warning flag adds more confusion to an already confusing situation, what exactly is right thing to do? What point is leaving a car width under breaking if then there is nowhere for the overtaking driver to go. No good racer will leave enough room for their opponent, at some point that gap will be gone.

  48. Strongly disagree. A black and white flag clearly says that what you did was illegal, but not so much that a penalty is a valid reaction, the first time.
    F1 needs a schedule of punishments that includes a warning, Charlie used to make those warnings and they were relayed via team radio but that isn’t the clearest way to represent the seriousness of the warning to fans, a black and white flag does that much better, you did something wrong, do it again and you’ll get a penalty, what is hard to understand about that?

  49. Let them race, less penalties. They are not machines, they are going to push to the limit and beyond and should not be punished for that if it is within a certain tolerance, i.e. No actual contact/Damage.

    1. The problem with that tolerence is that it punishes one driver for backing off so he can continue racing. It basically rewards agressive behavior or drivers with less to lose.

      So of course the tolerance should be stricter than what you suggest.

  50. More race on track and less cry from British media (when thing not go right for their loved drives) will solve the problem.

    1. Found the first person to cry when this works in Ham’s favour. Why do you keep logging in under different user names? You do know we can see that you are all the same person, right?

  51. I’d call it the “bad sport” flag, or the “driving standards” flag.

    The former is the short form of “bad sportsmanship”, and the notion of being a good sport already exists (albeit rather more often called this in Enid Blyton’s era – the 1940s and 1950s, for those who haven’t read her children’s books – than in the 21st century).

    The latter is routinely used in the sportscar scene, and often heard; in WEC, ELMS and many other such series, a car going off-track 3 times while neither gaining nor losing a significant advantage is shown one as a final warning. (In that scenario, a 4th offence during the race gets a drive-through penalty. Situations where drivers clearly lost significant time or were forced off aren’t included in the count, and off-track ventures with large advantage may attract an immediate black-and-white flag or penalty).

    I must admit surprise that no penalty happened after the chicane-cut-and-weaving incident. One of them might have been shrugged off, but in the context of the black-and-white flag, surely the two together was an offence that would have tipped matters over into a penalty? This was especially so given it was noted as a “missed apex”, which looked like an understatement to me. (It’s possible the stewards realised they’d publicly stated the wrong offence – maybe someone hit the wrong button on the messaging system? – at which point there’s no choice but to cancel the investigation without substituting it for another for the same incident. In which case the stewards did a pretty serious error and will probably get reprimanded for it).

    There’s a strange feeling when one wants what happened on track in terms of result (I’m a Leclerc fan) but still feels with part of their being that Bottas should have won the race… (There’s another part that felt Leclerc would have re-passed Bottas with the hard tyres near the end of the race and won anyway. But it would have been fun, and fairer, had we found out).

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