Black and white flag becomes F1's official 'yellow card' warning

FIA race director Michael Masi says the return of a black and white flag warning for unsportsmanlike driver conduct should be considered Formula 1's equivalent of football's yellow card

Black and white flag becomes F1's official 'yellow card' warning

The black and white flag is available for use at all levels of motorsport, and the FIA International Sporting Code specifies that it "should be shown once only and is a warning to the driver concerned that he has been reported for unsportsmanlike behaviour".

Prior to last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix the signal was last used in F1 at the 2010 Malaysian GP, when Lewis Hamilton was warned for weaving in front of Vitaly Petrov.

Subsequently it fell out of favour, and former race director Charlie Whiting generally preferred to use radio messages to teams to convey warnings that an offence had been spotted by race control.

But Masi sees the flag as a useful tool, and specifically as a transparent public warning that will be seen by all.

After some discussions with teams it was formally reintroduced at Spa.

Drivers were told that it would be used if the timing loop in the runoff at Raidillon was triggered by them running wide three times, while also being available to address conduct such as moving under braking.

In the event drivers respected the runoff in that section throughout the weekend, and it was never deployed for that reason.

But the flag - actually displayed on a light panel at the start/finish line - was used to warn Pierre Gasly for moving in the braking area during the race.

"The black and white flag, bad sportsmanship flag, is something that hasn't been used prior to this since about 2010 apparently," said Masi when asked by the change in policy by Autosport.

"But one of the discussions that has been ongoing with the sporting directors is using it.

"So one of the reasons I haven't used it to date is trying to find out from as many of them and others as to why it stopped being used, and no one could come up with a valid reason.

"It is one of the flags that exists in the code, and every single sporting director and every single driver is supportive of the use of it.

"It is effectively the motorsport version of the yellow card."

Masi made it clear to the drivers at Spa that a repeated offence after a warning flag would go to the stewards, potentially triggering a penalty.

"That was highlighted at the drivers' meeting on Friday night, that it is your yellow card," he said.

"If we use the example of this weekend, if a black and white had been issued for exceeding track limits at Turn 4 [Radillon], for setting the loop off three times, and then you got another one for another incident, you wouldn't get a second black and white, you would be referred to the stewards as a breach."

The Raidillon run-off at Spa was considered a special case because of the high speeds at that point and the potential for an advantage to be gained down the following Kemmel straight.

Masi said the flag will remain in use for track limits at some venues, as well for as other offences such as that committed by Gasly.

Red Bull Racing driver Alex Albon welcomed the change of approach.

"I don't mind it too much, I think it's a lot better to do that than give penalties," he said.

"Even like the Vettel/Hamilton case in Canada, it would have been resolved a lot better if it was just a warning first.

"I think it's a good idea. We used it a lot in karting and it worked well, so I don't see why it wouldn't work in F1."

No action yet on slow qualifying laps

Masi does not share concerns from F1 drivers that the slow speeds they are doing before qualifying laps are unsafe, but said the FIA is monitoring the situation to make sure things do not get worse.

Last weekend world champion Lewis Hamilton said a "dangerous" situation was developing with drivers running slowly to try to get a tow and prepare their tyres.

Sebastian Vettel added that he thought matters had not been helped by the current generation of F1 tyres having a very narrow operating window.

"Obviously you are fighting for a tow and so on, but you are also fighting to get into the optimum window, which years ago was not that critical whereas now it is," said the Ferrari driver.

"You are fighting for the best spot on the track, which will hit the peak in Monza for finding the right tow because it does make the difference, but that has always been part of those type of tracks.

"But I feel if we had better tyres, we could play with probably a bit more speed and so on."

While Masi is aware of the practice taking place, and the concerns that drivers and their teams have, he thinks at the moment that there is no need to step in and take extra action.

"It is something that we have certainly discussed together with the sporting directors and at the current point, I think it is manageable," he said.

"Once it gets beyond that [we may look into it], but at the current point it is something we are continuously monitoring during the season and we will continue to look at it."

- Jonathan Noble

shares
comments
Mercedes and Ferrari both have F1 engine worries heading to Monza
Previous article

Mercedes and Ferrari both have F1 engine worries heading to Monza

Next article

Ricciardo hopes "easy" Hulkenberg gets F1 seat after Renault exit

Ricciardo hopes "easy" Hulkenberg gets F1 seat after Renault exit
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Plus

Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Plus

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far Plus

The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz came close to winning in Monaco but needed that race’s specific circumstances for his shot at a maiden Formula 1 victory to appear. Last weekend in Canada, he led the line for Ferrari in Charles Leclerc’s absence from the front. And there’s a key reason why Sainz has turned his 2022 form around

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

Plenty of high scores but just a single perfect 10 from the first Montreal race in three years, as Max Verstappen fended off late pressure from Carlos Sainz. Here’s Autosport’s assessment on the Formula 1 drivers from the Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022
Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP Plus

Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP

On paper the Canadian Grand Prix will go down as Max Verstappen’s latest triumph, fending off late pressure from Carlos Sainz to extend his Formula 1 world championship lead. But as safety car periods, virtual and real, shook up the race Ferrari demonstrated it can take the fight to Red Bull after recent failures

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022