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
Load comments
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021
Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems Plus

Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021
The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower Plus

The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower

On 8 October 1961, Innes Ireland claimed victory at the United States Grand Prix to herald the true arrival of a new Formula 1 giant. While Team Lotus endured plenty of highs and lows until the team folded over three decades later, Colin Chapman's squad made F1 history and helped shape the championship

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021