Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Perez and Kvyat’s penalties a result of “crackdown” on drivers ignoring blue flags

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat’s penalties for blue flag violations during the Spanish Grand Prix were prompted by a new “crackdown” on backmarkers failing to let the leaders through when instructed to.

Drivers are shown blue flags, light panels and cockpit lights when a rival who is about to lap them closes to within 1.2 seconds. At this point the leading driver must “allow the following driver to overtake at the first available opportunity”, according to the event notes for last weekend’s race.

Perez and Kvyat were found to have ignored blue flags from turns six to 15 on one lap, and on to turn one of the subsequent lap, during Sunday’s race.

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi said the pair “took way too long” to respond to the instructions. All drivers had been warned earlier this this year the stewards would pay closer attention to their obedience of blue flags.

“It was something that we discussed at the drivers’ meeting following the first Austria event,” he said. “At the Styrian Grand Prix drivers’ meeting it was discussed that there would be much more of a crackdown on blue flags this year.

“This is the first place that we’ve seen that with two cars in particular, the two that got penalised, The regulations say [that] they should have effectively allowed the other car to pass at the first available opportunity.

“There’s a level of discretion within it to allow reasonable elements with the other cars. But those two were both clearly excessive and [I] referred those to the stewards accordingly.”

Perez criticised his penalty for holding Lewis Hamilton up, calling it “very unfair”.

But several team principals told Masi they approved of the tougher stance that was taken yesterday. “Up and down pit lane and I’ve even had a number of team managers actually ring and say they’re really glad to see people penalised for not obeying blue flags,” he said.

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16 comments on “Perez and Kvyat’s penalties a result of “crackdown” on drivers ignoring blue flags”

  1. A crackdown. A war on backmarkers. Against everyone who are not Mercedes or Verstappen.

  2. F1 should change the rule so that they have to overtake them, but with a blue flag reminder that its coming a faster car.
    Letting cars by really hurts your own race and you never catch up.
    If the leder gets hold up it just become more exiting.
    Let the best driver win.

    1. So you think it’s a good idea that back marker can hold up leaders, given Red Bull run 2 teams do you think that’s remotely fair that Alpha Tauri could block their rivals? Blue flags can never be removed until there is no teams with sister teams.

      If you let the cars through quickly then your race will not be compromised as your rivals behind you have already given up that time as will those ahead when the leader reaches them. The bigger issue is they need to reduce the aero effect behind cars so the leaders can get closer to the cars ahead before blue flags are needed so a back marker doesn’t need to let them through when they’re 2 seconds behind.

      Vettel pulled completely offline in the chicane on the last corner to let Hamilton by, Perez and Kyvat could both have done the same but instead they chose not to and were rightly penalized. By not pulling over at the first opportunity they likely saved a second or more in time on their rivals so deserved a penalty to lose that relative gain.

      Funny how the worst offenders for blue flags are the ones who’ve rarely been a front runner.

      1. @slowmo

        Love how we had fairly similar responses at exactly the same time :D

      2. Vettel lost 1.8 sec by allowing ham through in the last corner. He was 5 sec behind perez and after pulling out of way and slowing down to letting ham through gap was 6.8… 1.8 sec meant he would probably have a bit better chance to hold of one more person… And finish 6th possibly?

        Blue flags are for a reason obviously… You are catching rail, which means tail is already slow… Get off the way… Simple… Not to mention obvious purposeful blocking by rival/friend teams that would ensue if no blue flags were enforced. Say At or even albon get him on fresh tyres to block ham to allow max to catch up? It is not hard to imagine..

        1. While I appreciate that Vettel lost time in his battle. All drivers have to let faster cars through, so end of day, they all get impacted. Even if it’s somewhat skewed to where on track the faster car comes up.

          But that’s also somewhat the fault of the driver and team themselves, if you don’t like blue flags, built a faster car maybe so you don’t end up a lap down?

          Crudely said, of course, but end of day, the faster car should get the preferential treatment, they’ve done a better job and have more (points) to lose than the backmarkers.

          1. Oh, of course. If only they thought to build a faster car. D’oh.
            Nearly 1000 staff at Ferrari, and not a single one of them came up with that idea. Sack the lot of them!

    2. I agree in theory, but disagree in practice.

      If every team was completely independent, then yes… Remove mandatory blue flags.

      But the reality is that certain [backmarker] teams are affiliated with certain front running teams, and that causes a problem.

      Imagine a dramatic fight for the lead between a Merc and a Red Bull. They then catch up to lap a Williams.
      The Williams easily lets the Merc through, but now legally holds the Red Bull up… Even costing the RB 1 second or so, it starts to diffuse the battle we could have had between Merc and RB if all backmarkers were [as close to] fair and equal in having to let them both through.

      1. Or Albon holding up LH
        Blue flags are until every driver drives for himself

      2. More “”practice” then.. Ocon ( merc contract then) taking out the race leader in favour of a merc win.
        Williams, putting Kubica in the path of the race leader in the pits. ( who nearly avoided a crash).
        and so on…
        So there are a lot of recent examples of disputable behavior without any flags available to avoid it.
        Or it must be the white/black flag for unsporting behavior.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    17th August 2020, 9:51

    Something that I’ve seen some suggest elsewhere is creating a white line for any lapped drivers to follow when shown blue flags. Or even create an extra bit of the track at certain areas so their fight further back can continue. But that just shows how difficult and expensive it would be to create fair racing for everyone.

  4. Jose Lopes da Silva
    17th August 2020, 10:45

    It’s the third time in six races that Lance Stroll gets away/promoted due to some sort of weird circumstances.

  5. Getting silly now, every single thing can’t be stage managed. The leaders already have such a huge advantage, maybe the FIA should just demand cars about to be lapped pull off the track and retire…

    Just let drivers man up and deal with it between each other like it was in the past. Same goes for practice and cars being penalised if they don’t immediately dive out of the way of a faster car. Its become a soulless farce.

    1. I’m with this.
      If Hamilton can’t lap Perez through sheer car pace and driving skill, then maybe he shouldn’t just be let through. He’s already got 1:25 gap back to Perez, so his car isn’t exactly slow or incapable of overtaking.

      Although I’d like to see blue flags used as a advisory system only (letting the driver use their own judgement and racing etiquette to determine when they let the leader by) – I’d also be happy if they were limited to when the leaders are in battle, an not used when they are on their own to penalise the ‘backmarker.’

      1. Fully agree.
        F1 (management, teams, drivers) are in a control-trip. Everything that is not easy to control they want to change it immediately (tyres, track condition, backmarkers, grid positioning, etc)

        I think the backmarkers should not block the cars lapping them, specially if they are behind them using drs in a drs zone, but slowing down when the car after them is 1.2s is stupid.

        Yes, there’s the risk of one team using another driver to block the leaders, so what? F1 had that risk for decades and that happened like three or four times in my memory…

  6. Do the drivers get told in the briefing where the “available opportunities” are (or maybe where they are not would be easier).
    Then it would be quite easy to police.

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