Date: 26th July 2016 at 7:10am
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Mixed up in the drama and soap opera of the battle between the two Mercedes team-mates, Formula One threw up a key aspect of the rules regarding yellow flags in Hungary.

For anyone familiar with the rules in motor racing in general, a yellow flag is an indicator for the drivers to be cautious regarding something ahead.

A double waved yellow [ie two yellow flags being waved simultaneously] has always meant to slow considerably and be prepared to stop.

During Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso spun on track and was parked on the curb on the exit of a corner.

Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to come up to Alonso and drove past slowly and aborted his qualifying lap.

This was the case with most drivers, with the exception of Nico Rosberg, who set a purple sector time [fastest timed sector of the session], whilst going past the incident.

As a reference, Daniel Ricciardo was behind Rosberg on the track and he too aborted his lap due to the yellow flags.

The race stewards, came to the conclusion that Rosberg had lifted and slowed sufficiently.

This split opinion in the paddock and amongst the fanbase, mainly due to your own allegiance of whether you support Hamilton or not, who had lost pole position in controversial style.

But what everyone can be in agreement with is the fact that the position needs to be clarified.

This was what Lewis Hamilton tried to explain in the post-race press conference, only for Nico Rosberg to go on the defensive regarding his own position.

‘The whole 23 years of racing, it has been ?if it?s yellow flag, you slow down? and if it?s double yellow flag, you be prepared to stop and Nico was doing the same speed at the apex as I was doing on the previous timed lap. If there happened to be a car that was spun or a marshal on the track, it would have been pretty hard for him to have slowed down in that case, so that?s why… and the fact that he didn?t get penalised for it means that we need to be careful because the message we?re sending not only to the drivers here but also to the drivers in the lower categories is that it?s now possible for you to lose only one tenth of a second in a double waved yellow flag section which is the most dangerous ? one of the most dangerous scenarios with the double yellow flags. Hamilton told formula1.com.

‘They need to clear that up because before it was two tenths that you were meant to lose with one yellow flag and half a second with two yellow flags. It wasn?t the case yesterday and there was no penalty, so going into the next race, we could be battling for pole position and we see double yellow flags and we know we only have to do a small lift and lose one tenth of a second and we?ll be fine and go purple in the sector. So that?s why it does need to be clarified and I?m sure Charlie and the stewards are going to do so because it needs to be clear.

Rosberg, ignoring the overall picture and concentrating on simply this one incident said: ‘What you have to do with a double yellow is significantly reduce your speed and make sure you go safe. I went twenty kilometres per hour slower into that corner, twenty kilometres per hour is a different world in an F1 car. Twenty kilometres per hour, you are going proper slow. It?s completely… everything is safe.

Third placed driver Daniel Ricciardo sided with Hamilton: Yeah, for me, I think at least the principle, whether it was the situation [Saturday] or not but I think Lewis touched on the principle. It?s something which we?ve actually been wanting to probably discuss further for a long time or quantify because a single yellow, people are getting away with a micro lift and showing the stewards that look, I slowed down where you?re not really. But a double yellow is a significant… it?s a big risk on the track, perhaps and in my case, Fernando was still at the apex, pointing towards us on the racing line so I had no choice but obviously ,looking at the double yellows before that, it?s a little bit blind so already I was willing to drastically slow down, I guess. I think the double yellow needs to be very different to the single yellow and I think that?s what we?re not too pleased with at the moment.

Outside of the press conference and Sebastian Vettel also expressed his view to motorsport.com: ‘The worst thing about this is that we are an example,’ Vettel said.

‘Next week there’ll be a go-karting race and there will be a double yellow flag somewhere because somebody went off, and the marshals probably go out and help him, and then the ways the kids think is ‘I don’t need to lift much because in Formula 1 is okay’, and that’s the pinnacle and that’s how we have to behave.

‘That’s what I don’t like about it. I think in the past we didn’t have the technology to time the different sectors around the track, and we only had Sector 1, Sector 2 and Sector 3.

‘The rule of thumb was that you are not allowed to improve in a yellow sector. Double yellows, if you look it up in the rulebook, means be prepared to stop.


 

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