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Hamilton: Failure to penalize Rosberg for yellow flag lap sends wrong message

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Lewis Hamilton believes that the failure of the FIA stewards to penalize Nico Rosberg for completing part of his Hungary pole position lap under yellow flags sends the wrong message to young drivers.

Hamilton was forced to abandon his final Q3 lap on Saturday after Fernando Alonso’s spin sparked yellow flags.

Despite meeting the tail-end of the yellow flag period, Rosberg managed to complete his lap and go faster than Hamilton to snatch away pole position.

The stewards investigated Rosberg’s lap, but deemed he did slow down sufficiently to respect the yellow flags.

Speaking after winning Sunday’s race in Hungary, Hamilton aired his criticism of the decision, believing it sets a bad precedent.

“Well the stewards needs to come up with some kind of solution,” Hamilton said.

“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.

“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 one of the most dangerous scenarios with the double yellow flags.

“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 [Whiting, FIA race director] and the stewards are going to do so because it needs to be clear.”

Rosberg took full advantage of his right to reply, defending his actions.

“Thank you for making that statement, so now I’m going to put my response,” Rosberg said, patting Hamilton gently on the shoulder.

“What you have to do with a double yellow is significantly reduce your speed and make sure you go safe.

“I went 20 kilometres per hour slower into that corner, 20 kilometres per hour is a different world in an F1 car. 20 kilometres per hour, you are going proper slow. Everything is safe.

“That’s how I did my speed and lifted off 30 meters before my braking point, so I was just rolling there, 20 kilometres per hour slower until I got to the apex. Then of course when you’re in the apex, I would have a much tighter line because I went in slow and then so I could accelerate out again.

“So definitely I significantly reduced my speed and that’s what it says you need to do and that’s why for the stewards that was completely acceptable.It was very very obvious what I did, very clear and of course on a drying track you’re going to get massively faster every lap.

“It’s not like the track was consistent. On a drying track, it’s irrelevant what the sector time was because you’re going to get so much quicker every time you go out there because there’s wet patches and when they dry, you just go so much quicker.

“And so in that segment, I was slower, where there was the yellow flag but of course in the big sector, yeah, I’m quicker because the track is getting quicker and I’m pushing in all the other corners.

“So it was a pretty clear case for the stewards and that’s why I didn’t get any penalty.”

Clear or not, expect this to be cited as an example in future debates over yellow flag periods.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”