Should blue flags be banned? (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Do the world's best racers really need the slower cars to wave them past?
Do the world's best racers really need the slower cars to wave them past?

I mentioned the other day that I thought one way to improve racing in F1 would be to get rid of blue flags during races, which force cars that are about to be lapped to get out of the leaders’ way.

There were some strong opinions for and against the idea, so I thought it deserved an article of its own. Do you think blue flags should go? Read the arguments for and against below and cast your vote.

Should blue flags be banned in F1?

  • Yes (31%)
  • Not entirely - the rules should be relaxed (30%)
  • No, not at all (38%)

Total Voters: 3,805

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The rule

The FIA International Sporting Code gives an innocent enough explanation for the use of the blue flags:

The flag should normally be shown to a car about to be lapped and, when shown, the driver concerned must allow the following car to pass at the earliest opportunity.
Appendix H to the International Sporting Code, article (d)

The interpretation of the rules applied in F1 makes life very easy for the leaders. Once the driver to be lapped has been shown a blue flag for the first time they must yield before passing two further blue flags. As marshal’s posts are quite close together, in practice this means pulling over almost immediately.

A better version of the rule

This is the toughest rule for lapped cars in any racing series I can think of. Watch an IndyCar race and you can see how well not having blue flags works. It keeps the leaders’ progress in check.

In F1 a leader passing a backmarker is mundane and uninteresting – in IndyCar the ability to work through traffic quickly is a vital skill the leader must possess. It also provokes strategy changes – a driver catching a bunch of three or four cars may opt to make an early pit stop.

Remember we’ve seen some of F1’s best ever passes when a leader hesitated behind a backmarker, allowing his pursuer to sweep past them both – think Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna at the Hungaroring in 1989.

There’s much discussion at the moment about why F1 often fails to produce exciting races and I think the blue flag rule plays a significant, but subtle, role.


At Bahrain we saw once again how F1 cars are incapable of following another one closely because of their sensitivity to the aerodynamic wake and hot exhaust gases of the leading car.

Designers optimise their cars to work best in clean air. But would that be the case if the front runners knew lapped cars weren’t going to scurry out of their path as soon as they catch them, and they might have to spend a lap or two finding a way past?

I suspect we would see them going to the grid with larger radiators and other changes to allow them to follow other cars more closely.

As far as encouraging closer and more entertaining racing goes, that’s the Holy Grail.


The Fontana problem

We all remember how Ferrari leant on Norberto Fontana, in his Ferrari-engined Sauber, to hold up Jacques Villeneuve during the 1997 title decider, and no-one wants to see such egregiously unsportsmanlike conduct.

Getting rid of the blue flag rule could allow that sort of thing to happen again.

I say

Get rid of blue flags or keep them? It’s a ‘lesser of two evils’ call – and I’m broadly in favour of getting rid of them.

I can only think of a few similar incidents of the Fontana types. Repeats can be prevented with stern words in the drivers’ briefing and vigorous stewarding.

And if we’re going to talk about abuses arising from not having blue flags, we must acknowledge that having them isn’t foolproof either. On some occasions over-zealous marshals have forced drivers to yield positions when they shouldn’t have to.

The way I see it, F1 currently has an extreme interpretation of the blue flag rule which should be revised but not pushed to the opposite extreme. We do not want to see backmarkers aggressively defending their position from the race leaders.

I think there’s a lot to be gained from relaxing the blue flags rule. It would cause some complaints if it were changed tomorrow, but if it focuses people’s minds on how to make F1 cars follow each other more closely then that’s a good thing.

You say

Made your mind up on blue flags? Cast your vote above and have your say in the comments below.

Read more: The Blue Flag Debate

Image (C) Lotus F1

186 comments on “Should blue flags be banned? (Poll)”

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  1. I’ve raced karts in endurance races for quite a while, and we never get blue flags. Occasionally we get the problem of aggressive backmarkers ruining our races by defending, but it’s the same for everyone. If we can put up with it, then surely 24 of the best drivers in the world can.

    1. BarneyDaGumble
      23rd March 2010, 0:40

      Oh come on, it’s silly to compare karting to F1, there is virtually no comparison. It’s not a question of the drivers not being good enough to pass, it’s a matter of the modern cars design which makes passing in normal conditions almost impossible.

      I’m not belittling you or any other karters, but to suggest that F1 drivers should be able to cope without blue flags because karters can is crazy

      1. “It´s a matter of the moden cars design which makes passing … almost impossible”.
        That´s what Keith is hinting at: get rid of the blue flags and the cars will be design differently to be able to pass…

        1. LehonardEuler
          23rd March 2010, 14:43

          No, front cars won’t be redisigned to be able to pass lapped cars. If a car is fast enough, having blue flags or not, they won’t bother to have it easier to lap a car.
          Think, in terms of design, is not a matter of modifing something to be fast in clean air and in turbulent air. Is one thing or the other, with a huge lap time gap in between. That redesign won’t happen.

          Ok, now assume we’ve got blue flags banned. Move on to Monaco GP. What would happen if there’s a 3 to 4 sec slower car in the back, holding the leaders? The best technology sport being defined by the worst car in the field… I don’t think so.

          1. good point well put… which makes me want to bring up the track design argument again…

            F1 has grown beyond the tracks of old, but really a little bit of all of these ideas need to be implemented for it to re-establlish itself not only as the top sport, but the most entertaining. Which it isn’t at the moment (GT1, Touring cars, MOTOGP, all produce more exciting races).

          2. Lehonard, you make the mistake of assuming that car designers are responsible for such changes. They are not. FIA has been making design rules for years and they could easily make another one. Like changing the rule for the underbody and instead of a flat bottom, to allow the same tunnel design used on GP2 cars. The GP2 have no problem with grip loss when close behind another car.

            That would allow faster cars to pass lower cars a lot more easily, and do away with this sissy ass rule.

            lapped cars are part of racing, and if a driver cannot pass a slower car on the track, then he deserves to be stuck behind him

      2. Kart racing is as close as you get to F1 racing. It’s one of the things that F1 drivers do to keep their race craft honed when they can’t get into an F1 car. I can’t believe you have an active interest in this sport and can say what you’ve just said!

        Don’t get me wrong. I am not offended by your disparaging comments about Karting. I am just amazed at your lack of knowledge on the subject.

        1. I’m amazed by your lack of knowledge of F1 and the difference to karting. ;-)

        2. Karting may be close to F1 because of it being very physical etc but the vehicles are worlds apart in my opinion.

      3. My point was not that karting and F1 are the same, but that F1 SHOULD be as exciting as karting. At the moment it isn’t, and one way to make it more exciting would be to remove blue flags. I agree that at the moment the cars are hard to pass. But it’s not impossible. The point being that the best drivers are the ones who can do the passing, and these would be the drivers who win the races,

      4. i think getting rid of blue flags would be great to get rid of for 3 reasons it would create more overtaking and would make more entenment, so exsample if they get it wrong and crash in to the backmarker. and my thinrd and final reason is tht it might mess up there startergy making onother person win and all these things would wreck the racing it would create more racing, well thts my veiw… p.s im 12 with is why some of the spelling might be wrong, lol

      5. Actually Barney blue flags are FIA answer to their silly technical regulations, and a wasy of giving in to car designers who insist on designing car that aren’t woth crap when they get behind another car

        The were no sissy free passes until this rule was introduced on 2001. Formula One was a hell of a lot better for 50 years before that when the blue flag was only an informational and safety tool

        Take away this stupid rule and re-instate the blue flag as an informational flag only

    2. “but it’s the same for everyone.”
      – No, it’s not. In F1 at least.

      A Ferrari powered backmarker would hinder Ferrari’s opposition and help the Ferrai drivers. If the backmarker is a friend of Hamilton, he would help him, but hinder Button. If one driver has more friends among other drivers, he will have it easier than the guy who has fewer.

      “Should blue flags be banned?” seems to me as just another desperate attempt at ‘improving’ F1 without tackling the direct problem, and is not less ridiculous than ideas like mandatory pit-stops, option tyres, weight handicaps, reversing qualifying grid etc.

      1. Au contraire, unlike the other ideas that are, yes, superficial, as Keith explained banning blue flags (or restricting their use) would actually force designers to make their cars able to follow other cars (so they can actually pass backmarkers more easily).

        Or would you rather radiator size, front wing size, etc. be regulated as now, and designers trying to evade the rules as much as possible?

        1. You forget that, when the field is as close as it has been for the last couple years, designers can’t sacrifice 0.1s/lap to allow for a car to more easily follow other cars because all that will happen is that they can’t catch the field because they don’t have the speed and they don’t have the qualifying position. All it will help with is working their way through the backmarkers after an early pitstop, who are so slow that almost anyone can pass them at will.

          The easiest and quickest fix to the overtaking problem will occur through one of three mechanisms:
          1) Banning of front and/or rear wings (lol)
          2) Relaxation of the technical rules
          3) Radical change to the regulations, al la the “proposed” 2011 regulations with movable aero and turbo charged engines

          All of these ideas result in either:
          1) Races so slow that F1 will stop being the top openwheel sport (1)
          2) Races that are so fast that there could be large safety issues arrising (2/3)

          Take your pick.

          1. LOL – Easiest? Quickest?

            What on earth are you on? None of those are easy or quick, as you’d create mobile death traps or need to wait 12+ months for the results.

            Easiest/Quickest, is a new hard tyre so there are no marbles.
            Mandatory 2x pitstops so the drivers are free to attack as they know they don’t need to nurse the new hard tyres.
            Smaller/limited brake cooling to lengthen braking zones, without ruining banzai atack braking ability.
            Plug the holes that allow the double deck diffusers.
            Ban openings on wing elements (Stalling/vented elements banned)

            They are things that could be done now and quickly….new engines, removing all aero panels and technical blue sky’s are neither cheap nor quick!

          2. Mandatory 2x pitstops so the drivers are free to attack as they know they don’t need to nurse the new hard tyres.

            Didn’t work in DTM. Didn’t work in A1 Grand Prix. Won’t work in F1.

            It would just make it even less likely that drivers would try different strategies. We need to go in the opposite direction – get rid of the “top ten qualifiers start on the qualifying tyres” rule and get rid of the requirement to use both types of tyre during the race. That will encourage variety in strategies.

            Plus you have to suspect the reason Red Bull are pushing so hard for this is they expect it will give them an advantage.

          3. When I see people talk about “Relaxation of the technical rules” I start to yawn and drift off. You just know they didn’t think things trough properly suggesting something like that.

      2. I think there’s quite a clear difference between a backmarker defending and just taking their normal line. I’m sure that the driver will know that the driver behind is not fighting for position, and therefore it wouldn’t be too difficult to enforce a rule to say they’re not allowed to defend.

      3. Airborne Williams Cap
        23rd March 2010, 18:05

        I agree. If F1 becomes reliant on backmarkers to provide entertainment, then something is very wrong

        1. Crid [CridComment at gmail]
          23rd March 2010, 23:25

          What on Earth makes you think so? If they’re not part of the entertainment, why are they there?

        2. Backmarkers were the ONLY entertainment at Bahrain.

  2. Poor Norberto. Wront place at the wrong time.

    I really belive his views about it: Sauber told by Ferrari to block the Williams.

    And it wouldn’t surprise me. That race, Williams arranged something with Mclaren too.

    1. So what do you think about blue flags?

      1. Well, Keith. I shall tell you about blue flags. As someone that has done marshalling and timing and scoring for ALMS, Toronto-Indy and CGP (Montreal) as well as many local and national motorycle races and Formula Atlantic races (including a few JV and David Epringham races) I do not have the right to express an opinion.

        But, as a race fan, I feel I do have the right to express an opinion.

        If the driver/rider in question is impeding the flow of the natural recourse of the race, then they MUST be asked to step aside.

        Very seldom are blue flags required in bike racing, but when they are, it is a God send.

        A race is a sprint. Even if it is over twelve hours. No-one cares who came in twentieth.


        1. Of course you have the right to express your opinion. Where do you live? North Korea?

        2. As someone that has done marshalling and timing and scoring for ALMS, Toronto-Indy and CGP (Montreal)

          Cool! I’d love to hear more about that. Email heading your way…

          1. I previously threatened to write an article for you.

            As you may have noticed, I am not much of a wordsmith and do have a need to be edited. (I do go off on a rant, and do get miffed with minor details re: the Queen’s and anthropology!)

            But, if you are up to the task, I may just spew a life of Canadian marshalling, T&S and general race meeting support.

            Gosh help the person that may be entrusted with cleaning it up! LOL

          2. Editing holds no fear for me. I’ve worked on a student newspaper.

      2. I see the need for the blue flags BUT I see the problem with blue flags as well. I think they could be removed but that a driver deliberately blocking should risk being black flagged. When looking at any F1 race there is always movement at the back. Even in the last race that many called dull there was overtaking going on. Overtaking move of the race was probably Glock on Truli (why isn’t’s live timing lapchart working?).
        Kubica and Sutil ended up almost dead last after the incident they had they picked their way up the field unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of their race and there where no blue flags for them to help them forward. If a leader is 2-3 seconds a lap faster they to should be able to overtake the slower cars. I would think most drivers wouldn’t want to get in the way of a front runner unnecessarily in most cases but say if Ferrari would lean on STR to block Mercedes as example and they would do then there need to be something to prohibit obvious blocking. How long is to long? A lap? half a lap? 3 corners? 2 laps? But the current that forces a driver to jump out of their way when blue flagged I do not see anything in the regs requiring “at earliest opportunity” don’t mean right away or completely move over in the corner.

      3. It’s a “No, not at all” for me.

        Everyone is concerned about team orders, about how one driver is forced to let their teammate through and hold up other drivers at the same time. Banning blue flags will definitely take this problem to a higher level. Inter-team order will be introduced. Let’s see, STR will be forced to move aside and let Red Bull through, Force India, to please their engine supplier, will probably let Mercedes through as well. And before we know it, F1 will be all about who please the backmarkers more since they will definitely play a huge role in all these nonsense. I mean you can’t just introduce a ban and not expect the teams to make full use of it.

        Besides that, banning blue flags will make the flow of the race unnatural since the cars being lapped aren’t suppose to be there in the first place. They’re suppose to be right at the back where the leaders can’t see, not in front of them slowing them down!

        I say to leave the blue flags rule as it is. Banning blue flags to improve racing is just looking at the small picture of things and will only cause more problems then it solve. Not that it solves any in the first place.

        I don’t usually leave comment because my English is not that great and I mostly agree with what Keith says anyway. But this I have to. It’s time I voice out my opinion anyway. I followed this blog since ’07 and the number of comments I left can be counted with my fingers. I am ashamed.

      4. i think the blue flags are okay.

        Slow cars must not have part deciding the race. The leaders’ cars must.

        I would be very ****** off if a HRT gets in the way of a Red Bull or a Ferrari changing the outcome of the race.

      5. I think only the the blue flag rule should stay, but the LEADER should be the only car not allowed to be blue-flagged past a slower car.
        this would allow 2nd,3rd.. placed cars to catch up to the leader!

  3. I think that it should be banned unless a backmarker is blatantly blocking a car one of the leading cars. Race stewards should decide whether or not they should be waved.

    1. Maybe give a warning and a black flag for excessive blocking, but otherwise no blue flag?

      1. RandomChimp
        23rd March 2010, 7:43

        What’s excessive blocking though? Weaving in breaking zones etc.? And isn’t that already frowned upon by stewards?

        1. Anything more than one blocking move by a driver out of the running is “excessive”. They should not be asked to move aside but should be less aggressive than if they were battling for position.

  4. I think this can cut both ways. On the one hand it would make things more exciting with leaders having to work hard to pass backmarkers, which would improve the ‘show’ ..albeit artificially.

    The real issue is track design not allowing drivers to pass eachother easily. Removing the blue flags might work at Spa or Monza where passing is relatively straightforward. But what happens at Monaco or Albert Park? I think back to Bernoldi holding up Coulthard for most of the Monaco GP in 2001..

    1. Why would removing the blue flag be improving it artificially!?!? Racing is about passing people be it for position or not. I think its more artificial making them move over.

      For me I cant see any positives for the blue flag rule. Never liked it, but sadly I cant see it going.

    2. There are chances at Melbourne for overtaking, and given the difference in pace (some 20kph) between the fastest and slowest, this shouldnt be a problem for the front runners.

      I do agree about Monaco though, and to a degree Hungary and Valencia. These tracks are pretty tight.

    3. Bernoldi and Coulthard were fighting for position, after Coulthard stalled on the grid from pole.

      1. That must be one of F1’s most frequently forgotten facts.

        1. Ahh yes, I stand corrected!

          But the point still stands – the car that was good enough to get onto pole, couldnt get past someone significantly slower, thereby impeding their progress!

        2. Not least by Coulthard himself, who complained about it after the race.

    4. Interesting that you use the word ‘artificial’. To my mind it seems artificial that the rules force backmarkers to dive out of the way of the leaders, which obviously isn’t how they’d behave normally and isn’t what we see in other forms of racing. I’d say the present rule is artificial.

      1. Agreed. And even in Monaco it will still be possible to overtake, if one car is that much faster that he is lapping someone else.

        This also does not change the fact that it would still be wise for the backmarker to give way as both cars will be losing time relative to everyone else on track. Remember, backmarkers can be fighting for positions too (imagine how stoked Bruno and Karun would be to finish the Aussie GP ahead of the Lotus and Virgin drivers with their HRT!).

      2. Keith? I appreciate your opinions but feel you may have fallen short on this topic.

        During a marathon the last few kilometres are normally held in an enclosed area (laps) then one or two circuits are held within the Stadia.

        If a lad was far behind during the running of the course but impeded a potential winner, should one feel this was a fair and decent result?

        Second is first of the losers. Sorry about ones circumstance.

        Many have discussed the paucity of overtaking in F1. There are many theories.

        Aero’s are obvious. Why do the teams not wish to change? Advertising!

        Yet, during the ‘ground-effects’ era, many teams ran without front wings of substance.

        I say that the FIA mandates aeros from the axles front and the axles rear.

        The bespoke wings shall allow customer signage and FIA tuning for greater on track activity.

        Then, the FIA may address the tyre provider as to the mechanical grip of such tyres (as you have said previously).

        The tyres would obviously last a race distance, but why not a race meeting?

        Easier aeros and less mechanical grip provides greater passing.

        We can not go back to manual shifting as that genie was long ago let go from the F1 bottle. Heck, even my septuagenarian maw has paddle shift on her latest motor.

        1. Actually, *mechanical* grip promotes closer racing. Otherwise I’m with you!

          1. ….except when you’re forced onto the marbles….

      3. Getting the back marker to move aside because the leader is coming up to them artificial.

        But then, why should the front runner be penalised because the slowest drivers cant stay on the lead lap – hence the artificial aspect!

        I say its better to ruin the fight for 23rd and 24th than the fight for points.

    5. I think overtaking backmarkers is part of the sport, when you race on a closed loop (they have this in all sports with a closed circuit).

      I saw nice battles for the lead in the past, where one of the leading drivers had more trouble getting past backmarkers, and the guys chasing him could get make a go at him for the lead after being cleverer (or more lucky).
      Also the front drivers might react in their pit-stop strategy if they catch say a HRT after 10-15 laps of albert partk.
      When you look at the lap times of Kovi for Bahrain, there are enormous jumps in laptime for him having to let the leaders by, not to mention the Hülk getting past him after a blue flag for a front runner. This means, that by coming to the back of the pack early, a driver loses a lot of time and cannot fight his way back to the front any more.

      So i would like to get rid of the blue flags in normal circumstanses, using it only to warn in blatantly obvious situations or maybe at critical points of certain tracks (Monaco, …) – this could be discussed with the drivers before the race.

  5. I feel that blue flags should be relaxed but not entirely dismissed.

    The main problem with not having blue flags in my books is that it could ruin a leaders race and make artifical racing. How many times have we seen a gap that a leader built up be ruined by an over zealous backmarker? In my books, allowing a backmarker to battle a leader is the same articial racing as forcing teams to use both types of tyres in a race.

    That being said, I do feel that the backmarkers shouldn’t basically park themselves off line to allow the leaders through. It should be a battle, but not one that could comprimse a race

    My solution? Why not settle for a comprimse that says that the backmarkers need not go off the racing line when a leader comes up behind them, but should they go for a passing move, they should go by unimpeeded. That way, it provides the potential for excitement, allows for a strategic move to be called upon, and it means we won’t have an otherwise flawless performance from a driver ruined by sheer luck.

    However, seeing a backmarker overtake a leader, ala Eddie Irvine on Senna, would be an instant classic.

    1. Why not settle for a compromise that says that the backmarkers need not go off the racing line when a leader comes up behind them, but should they go for a passing move, they should go by unimpeded.

      Sounds good to me.

      1. Or, what if instead of 3 blue flags, allow the drivers one lap to let the leader by from the corner they are shown the blue flag.

        Perhaps too difficult to police? I am against dropping the blue flag entirely tho, but do remember the days it was a skill to cut thru the backmarkers – even as recently as the Shumi/Hakkinen battles.

      2. That’s the only feasable answer, Keith.

        Keep the blue flags for blatant obstruction of faster ( lapping ) cars but definitely allow a ( brief ) proper fight to take place every time.

        Winners should should have to fight all the way for their wins. And as you said earlier, allowing some opposition to take place would give the teams’ high-tech boys, obsessed with fabulous aero packages, something serious to think about.

        So, keep the blue flags but relax the rigid rules.

    2. I agree with sojcarter.

      The faster car should attempt to overtake on the dirty side. This challenges their ability to overtake too.

      I imagine a backmarker on the racing line with the leader diving down the inside. Then yes, the backmarker should not attempt to block but the leader will still have to work hard to pass this backmarker.

      So the waved blue flags should just warn the backmarker there’s a fast car behind and be aware that he might make a move, and its purely up to the fast car to decide when to make the passing move.

    3. LehonardEuler
      23rd March 2010, 17:14

      Something like “racing the ghost” in the Gran Turismo series? I think that is the spirit of the rule, but we have to understand that when it gets complicated, it’s natural to “force” the last cars to let past the leaders.

  6. William Wilgus
    22nd March 2010, 22:52

    IMHO, the Blue Flags aren’t used enough: they should also be shown to a clearly slower car even if it isn’t about to be lapped.

    Aside from larger radiators which would only address the problem of over-heating, how would one design a car to have aero down-force in the dirty wake of a car? There’s no way. The only answer is to eliminate the wings.

    Finally, you can’t compare over-taking on an oval course with over-taking on a road course: apples and oranges!

    1. Indy car last race was Sao Paulo street circuit exactly like F1 circuits meaning a like for like comparison.

      1. In fact ovals account for less than half of the circuits on the IndyCar calendar now and have for the last couple of seasons.

        This year they have eight ovals and nine non-ovals, five of which are road courses, the other four street tracks.

        1. Theres hope for the series yet…

          1. I think it’s a good mix. Wish they’d race on a greater variety of ovals though – too many short ones, would like to see some superspeedways back on there like Michigan. And they need to get Laguna Seca, Portland and Road America in there.

  7. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    22nd March 2010, 22:52

    They should definitely NOT be banned. They are needed now more than ever which such a large gap between the field.
    Generally a blue flag won’t effect a drivers race anyway because he isn’t going to score any points.

    1. But I seen driver moving over for front runner that been in battle with another driver and and the driver he was in fight with manage to slip by in the wake of the front runner. Most of the time these drivers are not driving for points. Last year last lapped driver was Lewis Hamilton whom finished 9th today that would been a points paying position. Glock 10th and Kubica 11th. Imagine how upsetting it would be for one of these three drivers if two of them where in battle ending up getting passed by the other driver during a blue flag period (front 4 drivers finished 19sec apart last non lapped was 65sec behind on a 1min 37sec lap so by guessing Hamilton,Glock, Kubica might been lapped by 4 drivers so 4 chances for someone they might battled behind to slip passed grabbing 10th or 9th.
      Fair? No.

  8. Imagine blue flags are done away with tomorrow, I can already here some of the front runners saying, no complaining that they can’t get close while following in the slower car’s dirty air.

    Maybe just relax the rules a bit in case a backmarker is blatently holding up the faster car.

    Otherwise let them race…. they are supposed to be the best after all!

  9. Jarred Walmsley
    22nd March 2010, 23:06

    I think the best way to go about it is to allow racing to happen between the grid and only show the blue flag if the car is dangerously slow. E.g. a blue flag wouldn’t be shown to a Red Bull if it spun and had to go into the pits for damage to be repaired and as such went a lap down, as it has the ability to be much faster than that and can move up the grid. On a side not did either of the Lotuses get lapped at bahrain and if so by whoo and how many laps in?

    1. Kovalainen was lapped twice, Trulli three times:

      2010 Bahrain Grand Prix result

  10. surely a race leader can pass back markers if they have passed everyone else? get rid of blue flags and let racers race like they are paid to do!

  11. I think they should do away with the blue flags as they are being used at the moment: a free pass for the leaders to pass slower cars. I mean, the hint is in the reference, they are supposed to be slower cars and if you can’t pass them then surely there is a more serious issue with the design of the cars.

    Instead, I think they should be used in cases like the one highlighted in the article where unsportsmanlike behaviour is set to ruin the results of a fair race. Then waving a blue flag to force the obstacle racer to let the car behind pass would actually help improve the spectacle. It would be a judgement call and we all know how they can go both ways, but it’s much better than what we have at the moment. No racing and indeed drivers saying they’re not driving all-out because they are too concerned with saving the tires.

    1. The hint is in the reference, they are supposed to be slower cars and if you can’t pass them then surely there is a more serious issue with the design of the cars.

      Well said.

      1. Nathan Bradley
        23rd March 2010, 14:57

        Definately agree with that, let’s hope the ban on double diffusers from next year helps. Also like the comprimise suggested above by sojcarter.


      2. Nathan Bradley
        23rd March 2010, 16:00

        Keith, how do you quote somebody so the text comes up different, I’ve just quoted Ranilom below and it hasn’t come up any different, or is that something only you can do?



      3. LehonardEuler
        23rd March 2010, 16:25

        For teams nowadays, design is a bet to be on top, or (almost) nothing. If a car fails to be the first one, then it will be slower than any others before it, even if it’s considerably fast in clean air. It’s the prisoner’s dilemma…
        That’s the situation that we see in every race, and it could be intensified if cars that are further on the back can present some trouble to the leaders.
        I think blue flags should stay for the same reason refueling is banned this year: To avoid uninteresting situations from defining the race result.
        With refueling, most races were defined in the pits, whereas without blue flags it could be forced to be defined in the pits again, or in a overtake maneuver that makes a driver gain no points at all… when the new points system is supposed to encourage a pass-for-points philosophy.
        I think it could be suitable under other (and very different) sporting regulations, but I don’t think of it as a rule for F1, because of its implications: Slower cars legitimately defining race results.

    2. Agree !First we need to solve the issue HOW to Overtake with modern F1.
      Than we can talk to review the rules of the blue flag.
      Ban the blue flag now and we could be watching a colorful train made of 30+ wagons….Right??

      1. I suppose there would be at least one of them bound to take that great opportunity of making up say 3-5 places in 1 go!

        The field would be together like behind a safety car, but with no rules limiting the overtaking. I would actually like to see that for once.

      2. Nathan Bradley
        23rd March 2010, 15:57

        Ban the blue flag now and we could be watching a colorful train made of 30+ wagons….Right??

        We could be, but as has been mentioned before, if the ‘faster’ cars really are that much faster than the ‘slower’ cars then the skilled drivers in those faster cars should be able to effect a good (and more exciting than blue flags) passing move within a maximum of a couple of laps, shouldn’t they?


        P.S. I’m not suggessting drivers in slower cars aren’t skilled, everyone has to have skill to get into F1 in the first place!

  12. i’m inclined to agree with keith. no blue flags will emphasize driver ability while hampering the leaders’ ability to simply check out, victory in hand. i’ll take this opportunity to continue beating the anti-aero drum. as for overheating, that is a choice made by the teams in the construction and prep of the cars, and no further rules to regulate it should be imposed (as if another rule would work as intended :( )

  13. I like the idea of getting rid, purely so that cars would have to be designed to run better in dirty air. As someone on another blog pointed out, making the air from the car infront laminar is a bit of the tail wagging the dog.

  14. I think getting rid of the blue flags is not a bad idea at all, especially in a season where the discrepancies between cars seem more substantial than we’ve seen in a little while.

    Backmarkers should be able to choose whether to yield as quickly as possible or defend (which will cost time to both cars). It would add that extra variable to some races, and would encourage leading drivers to keep aggressive or switch strategies. Keith’s example from the Senna x Mansell battle is perfect, because Mansell had the ‘good fortune’ to catch Senna and the backmarker (was it Stefan Johannson?) at the right time and place on the track, and had the balls to pull one of the most exciting manouvres I can remember. Hakkinen’s move in Spa 2000 was similarly breathtaking, but blue flags were already in use then.

    But I believe the problem runs deeper. Banning blue flags would be absolutely no problem if it wasn’t so difficult for drivers to follow other cars closely. I think the diffuser ban for next year is a wise move, but it should be followed by other rule changes that specifically prevent devices that disturb the air excessively. Then we can just leave the best drivers to do what they do best.

  15. theRoswellite
    22nd March 2010, 23:43

    It is certainly tempting to do anything to the rules that would improve the car-to-car “racing”, however I’m afraid it might have some untoward effects.

    When a leader comes up behind a slower car, but the track is nearly impossible to pass on…Monaco, in the rain? If the leader becomes desperate, and takes himself and perhaps the slower car out…is that the result we want? Or what if the slower car simply holds up the entire race…? If you think people are complaining now about a lack of passing, wait till we all watch the leading cars unable to get around a midfield car…that is not required to move over…lap after lap after lap!

    And what if a leader comes up behind his teammate, who moves over…certainly you can’t legislate that a driver can’t give way if he wants to…then the teammate refuses to give way for the cars which are following. I believe that would be a fairly blatant case of rigging the race outcome, but with no standard blue flag rule how are you going to say that something illegal has been done.

    Now if you say, well common sense needs to prevail…if a car is holding up the entire race he should be given the blue flag; then exactly when should he be shown that blue flag..after one lap…after 10 laps, or perhaps after most of the leading cars have been bunched up?

    And, will the interpretation of the blue flag be up to the stewards of the race or the FIA, which is to say will we have massive interpretive variations in the rules application from race to race?

    It is presently very difficult for the cars, on many of the tracks, to pass, I’m not sure I would want to create any conditions which promote unsafe attempts to pass…out of frustration.

    But, who knows? This no passing thing has been going on for so long it is making me crazy. Maybe we need large bumpers on the cars and toss out the rule book…..?

    But, perhaps I’m being

    1. Amen, Roswell (Seemingly my response was too short for a post, so I am blithering on now to please the post bot).

  16. John Stevens
    22nd March 2010, 23:51

    They should not wave blue-flags move have lapped cars move over totally like they do now. They should however relax the rule, so that the lapping cars must pass, but the lapped cars may not defend.

    This will allow the lapped cars to remain a little bit longer in their race-lines, and not loose too much time while being lapped, and at the same time, it will require some skills from the driver lapping, to cut through the traffic, without loosing too much time.

  17. Ban this, ban that… maybe we should ban qualification and start using some crazy roulette?

  18. Mouse_Nightshirt
    23rd March 2010, 0:20

    I think it would be a sad, sad day for F1 if we have so little overtaking between drivers racing for position, that we have to rely on watching the leaders battle past lapped cars for entertainment. Would anyone really get a thrill watching a Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren “scythe their way through” a HRT?

    This is a thoroughly inane, pointless and laughable idea for F1 to consider. F1 and IndyCar are completely different animals and I see no reason to “dumb down” races so heavily.

    1. I think they dumbed down races when they started telling backmarkers to dive out of the way of the leaders.

      Thinking back to 1988, when the McLaren were so much quicker than everyone else it was a joke, Senna’s ability to cut through the backmarkers quicker than Prost played a big part in him winning the championship.

      Getting through traffic quickly is as valuable a part of a racing drivers’ ability as doing a quick lap on low fuel or looking after the tyres early in a stint.

      1. “Thinking back to 1988, when the McLaren were so much quicker than everyone else it was a joke, Senna’s ability to cut through the backmarkers quicker than Prost played a big part in him winning the championship.”

        Isn’t that ability of cutting through traffic one of the things that got him so many poles as well?
        He was just able to go out there in those frantic last minutes of quali and lay down a lap while cutting through traffic?

        1. Occasionally, but Senna’s ability to get the timing of his pole lap just right (so he didn’t encounter traffic) should probably take more of the credit.

          1. Cool, thanks.
            I was only 7 when Senna died, and probably only saw him race 2 or 3 times as the only GP to be shown at a decent time for me as a youngan was the Aus GP…

      2. Guilherme Teixeira
        23rd March 2010, 13:22

        If I recall correctly, Senna only won that championship because Porst was badly damaged by the “best results count” rule. His raw results were much better than Senna’s.

        1. They both knew how the championship points system worked heading into the season. Prost knew he had to stop Senna from winning so many races, he just couldn’t do it.

    2. I 100% agree with you.

      1. that was a reply to Mouse_Nightshirt no idea why it appeared here.

        1. Because there was already one reply, which itself had further replies, so this one appeared beneath them.

  19. Vincent1972
    23rd March 2010, 0:21

    I voted no for now…
    But if it will be complemented with other rule changes (like aero, stewarding, etc.) maybe I’ll reconsider. :)

  20. Vincent1972
    23rd March 2010, 0:23

    Great poll! Yes and No are tied at 164 and not entirely is just behind with 143. No Majority. :)

    1. True, but taking options one and two together we have almost two-thirds in favour of changing the rule.

      1. Just to ask a daft question….If all the
        current aero was removed from F1 cars allowing
        drivers to follow the car(s)in front, nose
        to tail, in virtually any situation on track

        …what would modern F1 cars look like… ?

        1. Do a Google image search on “formula ford” and find out.

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