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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.

F1 aggressive on COVID-19 testing, social distancing enforcement

F1 COVID-19 testing
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With big hugs and wide smiles, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown exuberantly celebrated the first podium finish of Lando Norris’ Formula One career. His exuberance earned a warning from Formula One and FIA officials during the era of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent F1 testing.

“Obviously I got excited with Lando on the podium and embraced him after the race,” Brown said with a laugh during a news conference Friday. “You get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the event, but it was suggested maybe I don’t do that again if we get a podium anytime soon.”

MASK WARNING: NASCAR tells teams to avoid ‘complacency’

Now in its second race weekend of 2020, F1 has taken an aggressive approach to maintain a paddock free of COVID-19. Before teams hit the track last week for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, F1 and FIA officials said more than 4,000 tests were conducted over a week with no positive tests.

In order to enter the track, any F1 personnel (which includes drivers and team members) must have a negative COVID-19 test. Private testing was used ahead of those traveling to Austria. After entering the track, personnel are tested every five days with private medical teams at events along with extra screening.

The results of F1 COVID-19 testing also will be made public every seven days. More than 8,000 tests were conducted through Saturday.

It’s a much different tack from NASCAR and IndyCar, neither of which is conducting COVID-19 testing (and with NASCAR recently distributing that warned teams of “complacency with protocols).

Though Brown, who also oversees Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports in IndyCar, demurred when asked whether the U.S.-based series should be taking a cue, he praised F1 COVID-19 testing for being a best-in-class example.

“I don’t know exactly what every other racing series is doing, so it would be difficult for me to say they’re doing it right or wrong,” Brown said from Austria. “All I can really do is speak to what Formula One is doing, and they’re doing an unbelievable job with 5,000 tests, and people flying in from different parts of the world. The minute that someone — and there’s not been many instances – has taken a mask off, you’re getting a letter or a phone call saying put your mask back on.

“I think all sports should be looking at all sports and seeing who’s doing what and what are our best practices, but I’ve got nothing but great things to say about how the FIA and Formula One and the countries they’re racing in are executing because it feels extremely safe here.”

Brown said it’s unlikely the European-based circuit will do F1 COVID-19 testing at races in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada because the events likely will be scrubbed. Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, was scheduled to play host to F1 on the Oct. 23-25 race weekend but just canceled its MotoGP race.

“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”