Click to view our fantastic subscription offers

Instant access to the F1 paddock

You have 10 views remaining

You have read 5 stories this month. After 15, you will need to register or subscribe.

Register with us for free to view 30 stories a month.

Or subscribe to AUTOSPORT+ for unlimited news stories and access to our exclusive subscriber-only content.

Our commitment to quality journalism

We've introduced metered access to AUTOSPORT which will ensure that the majority of our visitors can continue to view the site for free. But we think that is worth a small investment from those who use it most, so that we can continue to send the leading experts in their field to motor racing paddocks all over the world to break the latest news and produce the most compelling interviews and race reports.

Every visitor gets 15 free page views per month. Once you reach the limit you can register to get 30 views or choose one of our value-for-money subscription packages to continue viewing and to get additional access to a range of features including:

  • Unlimited access to AUTOSPORT with news and views from the paddock
  • Enjoy AUTOSPORT+: subscriber-only analysis, comment and top-quality pictures
  • Get AUTOSPORT magazine in a digital format on your computer or iPad every week
  • Full access to FORIX - the world's best motorsport statistics website

We greatly appreciate your continued support to keep AUTOSPORT at the forefront of motorsport coverage, and we look forward to welcoming you as a new subscriber.

Glenn Freeman Editor
Find out more about our subscriptions

Branson backs call to remove blue flags

Blue flagRichard Branson has backed the call from Lotus boss Tony Fernandes to get rid of blue flags in grand prix racing.

Fernandes, whose team has made its Formula 1 debut this year, said earlier this season that he believed the sport would benefit from not having blue flags.

"Drivers are paid to overtake, whether they are back markers or at the front," said Fernandes back in May. "I think it would be good for the sport to get rid of blue flags. In the days of Ken Tyrrell, he would never let any car pass.

"If it's really hard for a world champion to get past a backmarker then I think it's a sad day for racing. I think racing is all about getting past people and overtaking and adding a little bit of 'je ne sais quoi'.

"You've got a driver saying it's ridiculous that he's lapping someone four times, so why should he be complaining about overtaking a guy that he's lapping four times?"

Branson, the main backer of newcomer Virgin Racing, agreed with Fernandes, as he reckons the sport would be more entertaining without them.

"It would be a lot more fun if they didn't have blue flags," said Branson. "I am sure some of the more established teams would not like it, but it is a racing track and they should not have to be told to pull over.

"If that is what Tony is saying, I definitely agree with him. It doesn't sound like racing - and it makes a bit of a mockery of the sport."

Virgin Racing's CEO Graeme Lowdon reckons blue flags hurt smaller teams too much, as they lose big amounts of time letting the leading drivers through.

"We get a blue flag three seconds before someone approaches us, and at the moment three seconds is almost a lap and you have to let them by within four corners," he said. "So we have situations where our guys are pulling to one side and the car behind cannot catch up.

"It's a massive compromise over the whole of a race. We do this graph of time against distance, and you look at the graph and you immediately see where the blue flags start because up to a point of the race we are there or thereabouts in terms of pace, but then it drops away.

"The issue is that you get the flags so early - and three seconds is quite a long time. And you have to tell your driver to let the guy past but you cannot speed the car up behind. It has ruined a lot of racing for us."

  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Paddock insight from group F1 editor Jonathan Noble
Grand Prix news updates from F1 editor Edd Straw
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed