Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Hungaroring, 2022

FIA to review use of black-and-orange flag after Haas protests

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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The FIA is to re-examine in what circumstances the black-and-orange flag should be used in the wake of the protests brought by Haas following the United States Grand Prix.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen has been shown the flag, which requires drivers to pit for repairs, on three occasions this year after damaging the front wing endplates on his VF-22. In Austin the team brought protests against Red Bull and Alpine after parts came off their cars during the race.

While their Red Bull protest was immediately rejected, Haas initially won its protest against Fernando Alonso, whose Alpine lost its right-hand wing mirror during the race. Although the stewards later reversed that decision on a technicality, they reiterated their concerns Alonso had not been shown the black-and-orange flag during the race.

In their latest decision, the stewards said they “strongly recommend procedures be put in place to monitor such matters and where necessary, require the problem to be rectified as has been done multiple times in the past, through either a radio call to the team or display of the black and orange flag.”

“We also understand the FIA president has initiated a review into the use of the black and orange flag.”

Alonso said drivers need the race director to take action if there is a loose part on their car which needs attention. “Inside the car, we don’t know sometimes even what damage we have, what aerodynamic devices are ready to fall behind the next car,” he explained. “So we just rely on the race director and we just drive the car as fast as we can.

“We maybe need to use that flag more often, or not, it’s a decision that the FIA and teams need to check. I think Formula 1 has changed a lot in the last 40, 50 years, there are a lot of aerodynamic devices now they are borderline in the races, so we need to make sure that we have a proper rule on that.”

However he believes more retirements are likely if the black-and-orange flag is used more often.

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“When you see the black-and-orange flag you have to stop and probably retire the car because I think it’s very difficult to fix some of those. Maybe the front wing is the easiest one, but apart from that I think it is difficult.”

Magnussen previously criticised the decision to show him in the black-and-orange flag earlier in the year, and believes if he is being penalised for such a minor infringement, others should too.

“If it’s actually because of safety, then safety first, I absolutely understand. And I’m happy either way, if the FIA decide not to, then stop us from running with little parts [loose].

“I have a feeling it’s a bit over the edge to call us in if we have these little things flapping. But if the front wing is flapping, the whole thing or something like that, then I get it. But anyway I’m good with either direction they take as long as it’s the same for everyone.

“Clearly in Austin, it wasn’t the same for everyone. I’ve had this flag three times this year. Which I’m annoyed with myself damaging the front wing but still, I got these flags, and then it’s not fair when you see a race like Austin and quite a few cars have damage and they don’t get it.”

Before using the black-and-orange flag the race director should consider how likely a part is to fall off and whether it poses a safety risk.

“I would prefer it to be a little more free so you can actually have a little bit of contact and you’re still okay. Because driving with that thing, the end plate off, you almost don’t feel it. It’s fine, the car is still race-able and fast. I obviously get the argument if it hits someone in the head, but I don’t know if that piece is big enough to actually do any damage.

“There’s also the thing about it not actually falling off so easily because of the way it’s structured. It’s very low chance it will fall off. So anyway, it just has to be the same for everyone either way.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on “FIA to review use of black-and-orange flag after Haas protests”

  1. Yes, please. And find a balanced solution and not a crazy one that will result in 10 meatball flags per race.
    The amount of damage a flying end plate can cause should be checked in the wind tunnel or the simulator.
    The most exposed thing I would expect are the driver’s body parts that are not protected by the helmet.
    And if they can indeed do harm it’s maybe better to ban them completely instead of throwing meatball flags at half the field. The difference they make in terms of performance and car balance isn’t at all vast.
    The mirror is different though. It’s quite solid and hitting a driver’s head could have similar consequences to what happened to Massa in 2009.
    However I strongly disagree that a car, after the mirror is ripped off at a pitstop, is in an unsafe condition. It’s happening quite frequently that the glass falls off and only the mounting remains in place. No one notices or complains. Furthermore, drivers are sometimes unable to see anything due to bouncing, dirt or rain and also no one has ever thought about withdrawing that car out of a race.

    1. And find a balanced solution and not a crazy one that will result in 10 meatball flags per race.

      So selectively ignore the rules? How’s that better than right now?
      Either something is worthy of a flag or it isn’t. You can’t just say that 3 flags are enough, and then don’t give any more because it looks bad.

      If it happens a lot, then car design needs to change to strengthen those parts – you don’t just change the application of the rules…
      The teams have those rules in front of them – it’s up to them to avoid penalties for technical infringements, such as loose or lost bodywork.

      Go back a few years… Cars used to break suspension arms with the slightest touch, and there were regular retirements due to suspension failure. That’s what it took for them to realise that if they built their suspension just a little stronger, they could continue in the races and finish with points rather than DNF.
      Same should apply here. If teams are getting regular meatballs, they need to decide whether saving 100 grams is really worth several potential points finishes.

      1. How many years ago are we talking? I remember some cases like that in 2004, or was it even more recent that suspensions broke easily?

        1. 2000’s, 2010’s…

      2. With balanced solution I do of course not mean that they should decide on a case by case basis, because that is what we have now apparently.
        So we need a reasonable rule that is valid for all cars. But also you can’t compare apples with oranges (mirrors with endplates in our szenario)
        The approach of building the endplates stronger is probably what the FIA will choose, but has the disadvantage of them getting heavier and therefore more dangerous when they indeed fall off (what they will do anyway given the forces they are under) So without any need we’re ending up in a vicious circle.
        Banning them would be cheaper, easier and cleaner.

  2. All the FIA seem to do is “review procedures”. Nothing ever changes, they just get swept up in another debacle of their own making later.

    1. Good point that is one of the biggest problems, FIA reviews usually lead to FIA reviews… they seem unable to be fair.

  3. I agree with MAG that consistency is important regardless of approach.

    1. No question, consistency is important.
      As my Dad used to say …. He’s a nasty piece of work, but he’s fair, he’s nasty to everybody.
      One wonders if Haas has built their wing endplates too strong.
      If like with Perez, the end had just fallen off, he wouldn’t have been Meat-Balled. I think Haas needs to look at the fracture mechanics of the wing ends a little closer. Yes, Go-for-Broke.
      It might be pretty easy from the Steward’s perspective, just ask the question, what would Charlie W. have done.?

  4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    28th October 2022, 15:07

    With the other race director in charge Perez and Alonso would probably of been shown the flag.

  5. And please stop with this stupid ‘meatball’ name. It’s been called the black and orange flag just fine for decades, we don’t need more childish bastardisation of terms and words.

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