Dutch GP chiefs vow zero tolerance approach to flares for F1 race day

Dutch Grand Prix organisers have vowed to take a zero tolerance approach to flares, after the problems that marred Formula 1 qualifying on Saturday.

Smoke flare on the trackside

Although the Zandvoort circuit has made clear already that flares should not be taken into the venue, that has not stopped some fans sneaking them in.

But the problems became extreme on Saturday when, on two separate occasions, orange flares were thrown on to the track during qualifying.

The first flare landed in the middle of the circuit and triggered a red flag, while a second flare towards the end of Q3 at Turn 1 rolled under the pitwall so only meant a brief yellow flag.

The FIA and track organisers confirmed the individual who threw the first flare was caught by security and handed over to the police.

Ahead of a 100,000 sell-out crowd expected on Sunday, Dutch GP officials have urged fans to behave.

In a statement, they said: “All drivers, Formula One Management, the FIA and the organisation of the Dutch Grand Prix do not tolerate flares, as Max Verstappen himself mentioned in a post-qualification interview.

“Their use is not allowed and creates very unsafe situations on the track for drivers and other fans.

“The organisation once again appeals to the common sense of all our fans and warns that the use of flares will not be tolerated.

“The offender who set off the torch on 3 September has been pointed out by bystanders and handed over to the authorities by event security.”

Dutch fans turn the air orange with smoke flares

Dutch fans turn the air orange with smoke flares

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the enthusiasm of the Dutch fans was energising for F1, but was not impressed that a few "idiots" had ruined it.

“The ambience is great here,” he said. “The enthusiasm for Max has ignited the whole country and that's perfect to see. My experiences are positive with the fans, and it's a shame that there are a few total idiots out there that either drink or don't consider what such a flare on track can do to a driver.

“We saw the pigeons and the flare, and the flare is the more dangerous thing because if such a can hits you, we've seen that in the past that it can leave consequences and that the halo wouldn't help you with that.”

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There were wild theories that the throwing of the flares had been timed to disrupt Lewis Hamilton’s runs in qualifying, but Mercedes said it had not found any particular evidence to support that claim.

“We looked at the camera angles, when Lewis was going through the pitlane, and I don't know if somebody's doing it, but I think it happened before he actually was at that point,” he said.

“So again, a few idiots, and I hope that the organisers can get a grip on it with the securities.”

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