Silverstone mud, 2012

Black flags, unlapping and British Grand Prix refunds

Your questions answeredPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Silverstone mud, 2012The F1 Fanatic inbox has been a tad neglected but now we’re in the August break it’s time to return with a new batch of Your Questions Answered.

2012 British Grand Prix refund

Alan Fixter was one of several fans whose trips to this year’s British Grand Prix was wrecked by the weather:

Me and my son came on Friday to camp for the weekend and was let down by the weather. It took us several hours to leave the premises after we were told there was closure to some fields. We spent a lot of money on tickets etc. Would you reimburse?

Obviously F1 Fanatic is not connected with Silverstone in any way as so is not responsible for providing refunds. If, like Alan, you believe you should be able to claim a refund then you should email the circuit on – they will send you a form to fill in. See this page for more information:

You can swap notes with other fans who were at the race in our forum:

Business books

Frank is looking to read up on the business side of F1:

Can you advise on any good F1 books relating to the business side of the sport?

I know there are plenty of books about the drivers and about racing but I am really interested to know more about what happens in the business side of the sport.

If it’s business you’re interested in the best person to start with is F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone. Two fairly new books have been published on him and his extensive F1 dealings recently. Although it’s fair to say both fell slightly short of expectations, they are the most up-to-date books on the business side of the sport to be found:

Watkins’ book was originally intended to be an “authorised” biography before Ecclestone changed his mind. Of the two, Bower’s is the only one whose index includes references to Gerhard Gribkowsky. Make of that what you will.

I still prefer Terry Lovell’s 2004 book on Ecclestone “Bernie’s Game” to both of them, though obviously it is not as current. A slightly updated version appeared in 2009 with a different title and, curiously, with some of the original text absent. Make of that what you will as well.

Timothy Collings’ “The Piranha Club” is an interesting read on how the business of running an F1 team has changed through the years:

The British Grand Prix makes for an interesting case study of F1 business and politics. Alan Henry’s “The Battle for the British Grand Prix” covers the various attempts by Brands Hatch and Donington Park to take the race off Silverstone and brings the story up-to-date with the signing of the current 17-year deal.

I also have a couple of F1 business titles on my bookshelf I haven’t got around to reading yet: “The Powerbrokers – The Battle For F1’s Billions” (Henry again) and “Formula 1: The Business of Winning” by Russell Hotten, both of which may be worth a look. If anyone has read them, or has recommendations on other good books on F1 business, please share them in the comments.

If you decide to read any of these, remember if you buy from Amazon via this link you also support F1 Fanatic, which earns commission from the sale:

Why didn’t Alonso get a penalty like Hamilton?

Charity is curious to know why stopping on the track after qualifying can get you a penalty but stopping on the track after a race doesn’t:

At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was excluded from the qualifying session because he did not make it to parc ferme.

Was it Valencia – European Grand Prix – where Alonso also stopped when he won the race, also not making it to parc ferme but he got to keep his points and win?

Kindly explain to me the difference or rather different use of the rules here.

As noted here at the time, Hamilton was punished under article 6.6.2 of the Technical Regulations, which states:

Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the event.

Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been driven back to the pits under its own power.

Qualifying is defined as a practice session but the race is not, which explains why Hamilton received a penalty but Alonso did not.

However Alonso was perhaps fortunate not to fall foul of a different rule, article 43.3 of the Sporting Regulations:

After receiving the end??of??race signal all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc ferme without any unnecessary delay, without receiving any object whatsoever and without any assistance (except that of the marshals if necessary).

This rule explains why we seldom see F1 drivers doing doughnuts and celebrating on the track after races (the need to preserve engines and gearboxes under the current rules is also a factor). However some drivers have rebelled against this including Hamilton at Silverstone this year and Vettel at Suzuka last year after he won the world championship.

Happily the stewards have been turning a blind eye to it. Hopefully that will continue.

Black flags

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Montreal, 2007Steve Jones has another question about disqualification:

When was the last time a car was disqualified, ie. black-flagged, during the race?

While we’re at it, how about the black flag with orange circle (almost redundant with car radios and pit boards), and black/white flag for unsportsmanlike behaviour?

The last drivers to be black-flagged and disqualified during a race were Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella (pictured) during the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, who had left the pits while the exit light was on red:

Every disqualification since then has come after the race and, curiously, they’ve all been at Melbourne: Rubens Barrichello in 2008 (left the pits against a red light), Lewis Hamilton in 2009 (misleading stewards about letting Jarno Trulli past) and both Sauber drivers in 2011 (rear wing dimensions).

I believe the last time an F1 driver was shown the black-and-orange flag was Robert Kubica for his broken front wing during the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.

And the seldom-seen black-and-white flag for “unsportsmanlike driving” last appeared during the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix when Hamilton repeatedly changed his line to try to keep Vitaly Petrov behind. The message apparently failed to get through: at the same track 12 months later Hamilton did exactly the same thing with Alonso and received a 20-second penalty.


We stay on the subject of Hamilton who raised eyebrows by unlapping himself from Vettel during tis year’s German Grand Prix. Nick asks:

How does a driver know if he can unlap himself without getting a penalty?

It is rare to see a driver unlap themself from a competitor but not unprecedented. Hamilton certainly knows this from experience.

At Interlagos in 2008 Kubica unlapped himself from Hamilton and, in doing so, presented Vettel an opportunity to pass Hamilton for position, which he did. This temporarily left Hamilton outside of the fifth place he needed to clinch the world championship, but of course that was resolved a few moments later.

The rules do not forbid drivers from unlapping themselves. Article 20.5 of the Sporting Regulations states:

As soon as a car is caught by another car which is about to lap it during the race the driver must allow the faster driver past at the first available opportunity. If the driver who has been caught does not allow the faster driver past, waved blue flags will be shown to indicate that he must allow the following driver to overtake.

It stands to reason that if one driver is capable of overtaking another then the driver doing the lapping is not “the faster driver” as defined in the rules.

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