Formula 1 tweaks blue flag process for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Formula 1's blue flag procedures have been slightly tweaked for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix following recent complaints from drivers about the difficulties of lapping traffic this year

Formula 1 tweaks blue flag process for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

While backmarkers are supposed to move aside for lead cars as soon as they get given a blue flag warning, the timing of that alert was changed for the start of this season.

While the slower cars should get a pre-warning from their teams when leaders are three seconds behind them, an official automatic trigger point for blue flags and lights in the cockpit was reduced from 1.5s to 1.0s for the start of 2017.

Though the actual change in time was minimal, the need to get that half-second closer to the car in front in a season when the aerodynamic changes have made it harder to follow closely has led to a situation where some lead drivers thinking lapping cars has been made too hard.

Kimi Raikkonen was particularly outspoken about the matter during the FIA drivers' briefing at the Canadian GP, when he talked about the difficulties he had faced with backmarkers when he led the previous race in Monaco.

Earlier this season, Max Verstappen was also annoyed after he felt the blue flag rules had nearly cost him the chance of a podium finish in China.

Conversely, drivers at the back of the field argue that if they have to move aside too soon it can unduly affect their own battles for position.

Having listened to the drivers, F1 race director Charlie Whiting has decided upon a slight tweak to the timings from this weekend with the blue flags and lights now triggered at 1.2s rather than 1.0s.

The FIA will view what impact this change makes on the backmarker situation before deciding whether further tweaks are needed or it is the right solution.

A note sent from Whiting to teams on Thursday said: "When the faster car is within 1.2s of the car about to be lapped blue flags will be shown to the slower car (in addition to blue light panels, blue cockpit lights and a message on the timing monitors) and the driver must allow the following driver to overtake at the first available opportunity."

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