IndyCar’s blue-flag procedure “being looked at”

IndyCar president Jay Frye says the series will examine its rules regarding blue flags, following leading runners expressing their frustration over the behavior of backmarkers.

IndyCar’s blue-flag procedure “being looked at”

IndyCar president Jay Frye says the series will examine its rules regarding blue flags, following frustration from leading runners over the behaviour of backmarkers.

While IndyCar drivers generally ensure slow-down laps don’t interfere with flying laps by rivals, current race etiquette allows slower or delayed drivers to fight the leader to avoid getting lapped.

In doing so, drivers are hoping for caution period which will bunch the pack and allow them to rejoin the tail of the field while still on the lead lap.

IndyCar's current rules state that a lapped car must give way to the leading pack, but also allows drivers yet to be lapped to defend against the leader in order to stay on the lead lap.

Romain Grosjean found himself having to contend with cars fighting to remain on the lead lap at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, twice banging wheels with the delayed Takuma Sato as he attempted to put a lap on him.

He later lost time behind AJ Foyt Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, leaving the ex-Formula 1 driver having to settle for second behind Ed Carpenter Racing's Rinus VeeKay.

Grosjean stated afterwards that “traffic cost us the win,” and that backmarkers being able to defend using their push-to-pass boost was “annoying”.

Other drivers rallied to Grosjean’s defence, describing it as “frankly ridiculous” that he had lost the chance to fight for the win.

“We look at that type of thing all the time – how it can be better, or what effect it will have – and that’s true of everything we do," said Frye.

“A ‘lucky dog’ or free pass around for lapped runners under yellow – that’s being looked at, and we can look at it in the offseason again. I know people say ‘You told us you’d look at it in the off-season before,” and they’re right, we have.

“But if we can’t find a better solution, something we have more consensus on, then we should leave it like it is.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Another IndyCar rule that courted attention in recent races was the closing of the pitlane under a full-course caution - which caused Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi problems during the Indianapolis 500 as the two were running out of fuel.

The pair was eventually able to pick up a top-up in the pits purely to stop them from running dry before the pits fully opened, but both ran out of fuel in the pitlane and their respective teams struggled to get them going again.

Frye explained that closing the pitlane is a procedural rule that is closely monitored.

“We’ve got some good ideas and we’ve heard some good ideas,” he said, “but whatever we do, we have to apply it and make sure we do it flawlessly.

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"If we can’t get it right, we won’t change it, because we currently have a system in place, and we know what works and what doesn’t work.

“I think Kyle [Novak, race director] has done a great job of trying to delay yellows that occur around pitstop time, so those who have not yet pitted don’t get their race affected badly by us closing the pits.

"But safety is our main priority, and if we can’t delay it, then the yellows will get shown and the pits will close. That’s it.

“If it appears we can delay the rescue for a car that’s just spun off and needs fired up, then we will delay.

"You’ve seen Kyle do that a number of times over the past couple of years so that the leaders who have made their fuel or tires go longer don’t end up put at the back for the next restart. "

“Again, there’s a lot of opinions as to what we should do going forward.

"The good thing is that the 2023 car with the hybrid unit will be able to get moving again – so that means fewer risks for the AMR Safety Team, safer for the driver as well, and less chance of the need for a yellow.”

The pits-closed-under-caution rule was introduced to stop drivers rushing to the pits, possibly through the incident or accident scene and risking injury themselves or to the marshals.

However, some drivers have been convinced of the merits of a secondary speed-limiter - much like F1's virtual safety car rules.

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