F1’s double waved yellow flag rules changed after Alonso controversy

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Formula 1 has changed how it will police violations of double waved yellow flags after Fernando Alonso was investigated and cleared over a potential incident during qualifying at the last round.

Some drivers questioned why Alonso avoided a penalty after he passed double waved yellow flags at the start of his first lap in Q1 and went on to complete his lap with a time quick enough to provisionally take third place. Among those who questioned why Alonso did not receive a penalty was Lance Stroll, who slowed by over 15 seconds more than the Alpine driver after passing the same yellow flags.

Ahead of this weekend’s race F1 has revised its instructions to drivers on how they should react to double waved yellow flags. It now states drivers will have their lap times deleted.

“Any driver passing through a double waved yellow marshalling sector must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop,” drivers have been told. “In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements it must be clear that he has not
attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes any driver in a double yellow sector
will have that lap time deleted.”

The instruction that the driver “should abandon the lap” has been removed.

FIA F1 race director Michael Masi said following the last race that deleting lap times “could be a solution” to avoid confusion over how much drivers need to slow down by.

“There’s probably a little bit of tweaking of wording that we can do,” he said. “It’s been one of those that’s been as it has been for quite a while.

“There’s some refining that we can probably do to make it clearer for everyone,” Masi added.

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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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20 comments on “F1’s double waved yellow flag rules changed after Alonso controversy”

  1. Alonso has taken up the noble task of improving the rule book for future generations by showing every possible way it can be exploited. Kudos.

    1. @sihrtogg
      Alonso’s using of his racing IQ and reflexes in his decision making process in critical moments of races (Qualifying, race starts, SC restarts…) is just unbelievable, the guy is a living legend.

  2. That sounds like a workable solution

  3. He cannot really help it can he? He is not doing any favours to his image. Somehow, a few years out of F1 had made him a bit of a legend (extracting more than expected out of them cars he drives). But now, I no longer have doubts about him in Singapore 2008.

    1. What are you talking about? Why isn’t he doing any favours? He brings inconsistencies in F1 into the light, trying to improve the rules… but somehow this is bad for his image?

      PS: How twisted some minds can be. It’s staggering.

    2. Learon

      But now, I no longer have doubts about him in Singapore 2008.

      It seems we have a judge that nobody asked for here.

    3. Bizarre to think that he must have been involved in a cheating case 13 years ago because of an incident which was not even close to being underhanded.

  4. Not sure why it was so controversial in the first place. Alonso avoided a penalty because he’s British, obviously

    1. Lol. He was slow, not like .1 as used to be the case but also not 15 sec either, either way invalidating the lap should cut the temptation.

      1. @peartree Except he had zero temptation.

  5. Or maybe you should just have to be slow in the mini-sector(s) where the (double-)yellow flag(s) are in force. What has it got to do with the rest of the lap?

    1. @juan-fanger IKR. What happens elsewhere on a circuit is entirely irrelevant since a yellow caution only applies within a single light panel interval at a time, not an entire timing sector or track length.

    2. Because if drivers know that there lap will count they will try to go through the yellows as fast as possible and not “slow and be prepared to change direction or stop” if one driver does the right thing and slows and loses 10 seconds of lap time why would it be fair to let another only slow a little and lose half a second of lap time?

      Alonso and other this year have “lifted” but not slowed to be prepared to stop so to make sure drivers 100% do slow and prepare to stop deleting the lap time makes sense, they wont do it if there is nothing to gain from it.

      1. @James1123 You assume they have an incentive to set a meaningful lap time when abandoning a push lap is a clear indication they don’t and have heeded for caution in the required manner.

  6. Once again, lap time is irrelevant, so could we stop this ‘meaningful’ thing.
    People have forgotten Hulkenberg’s & Rosberg’s 2016 cases.
    Meaningful or unmeaningful, the only thing that matters or should matter is complying within the actual yellow-affected light panel interval.
    Just because a lap time, which gets set anyway unless a driver pits, might (inadvertently) prove enough for getting through doesn’t mean a driver didn’t heed caution.
    If double yellow is towards the timing line, the remaining distance mightn’t be enough for ending up slower in delta despite abandoning a push lap.
    Going by lap time reference is unnecessarily ambiguous & gives room for interpretation.

    1. @jerejj Whilst I agree with your sentiment in general….

      Going by lap time reference is unnecessarily ambiguous & gives room for interpretation

      going by mini sector times could also be ambiguous and we are back in the realms of “did driver x lift enough”. As much as I dislike it, at least deleting laptimes removes all ambiguity.

  7. Another band-aid attempt.

    Simply make the rule that any car passing through a double waved section WILL have their lap time deleted?
    If, during the race, the time is NOT reduced by a nominated % time – Black Flag.
    Double yellows usually indicates exposed track workers :. NO substitute for marshals’ safety.

    This, of course, excludes any car that has passed that section before the flags, or any car that commences a lap, but arrives at that section & the flags have been withdrawn.

  8. So, basically the new rule is to do exactly what has been written in the sporting regs for a long time already.
    But actually do it now, instead of selectively ignoring it.

    Well done F1, one step closer to following your own rules.

  9. Great. This means that drivers can’t benefit from pushing the boundaries at the expense of safety (if they actually do what they say).

  10. Differently from the cutting corner Sochi controversy, for this one there’s no evidence that Nandito was being clever somehow, trying to prove a point. Lap times are not representative under yellow flag conditions, as cars are found dispersed in various points of the track. But the guy’s luck this season is to be involved in all sorts of talking points, either on his superb performances or his provocative instances, intentionally or not.

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