Blue flag, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 2017

Do F1’s blue flag rules need changing?

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Formula One drivers yelling about “blue flags” on the radio has become a familiar feature of races. But are they getting too little help making their way through traffic – or not enough?

Kimi Raikkonen complained about the blue flag procedure in the Canadian Grand Prix drivers’ briefing. He was unhappy about the circumstances in which he’d lost the Monaco Grand Prix after catching some lapped cars after his pit stop.

Do the blue flag rules need revising, or should they be left as they are?

More help for the leaders

Formula One’s blue flag rules don’t do enough to prevent lapped traffic interfering with races.

Most weekends we hear drivers complaining the slower cars won’t move aside quickly enough. In Russia a potentially exciting finish was spoiled when Felipe Massa got between race leaders Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.

The rules should be changed to make it harder for the leaders to get through traffic.

Less help for the leaders

Formula One’s blue flag rules are too generous as they are.

Lapping traffic used to be a vital part of a racing driver’s skill. But the rules are now so strict the leaders just cruise up behind slower cars and complain on the radio until they move aside.

The rules should be changed to make it harder for the leaders to get through traffic.

I say

I’ve often said F1’s rules are too complicated and need to be simplified. The counter-argument to this is that the rules have evolved the way they have over many years and it’s easy to forget why they’ve turned into what they’ve become.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Monaco, 2017
Blaming blue flags can be a convenient scapegoat
I don’t always agree with that – for example, when it comes to the horrendously complicated rules about tyres. But when it comes to the blue flag rules I see little realistic chance for improvement over the present situation by changing the rules.

IndyCar has much stricter rules on blue flags which make it harder for the leader to get through traffic. The second race in Detroit earlier this month was enlivened in the closing stages when leader Graham Rahal spent lap after lap trying to get around Ryan Hunter-Reay while he was being chased down by Josef Newgarden. It would be nice to think backmarkers could work in a similar way in F1, naturally delaying the progress of the race leader to keep the battle at the front close.

However if F1 were to relax its rules on how quickly backmarkers had to let traffic by it would place a huge amount of power in their hands. The temptation to abuse it would be huge. One notorious example from 20 years ago illustrates this: Sauber driver Norberto Fontana delayed Jacques Villeneuve during the 1997 championship decider after Ferrari’s Jean Todt had instructed his team, who were using their engines, to help them.

Of course drivers complain about the blue flag rules all the time. Backmarkers hate seeing their tyre temperatures drop when they slow to let the leaders by. Leaders hate losing even the smallest amount of time in traffic. And for the latter traffic can be a convenient scapegoat.

But the blue flag rules aren’t the problem here. Cars which are too sensitive to turbulent air and tyres which are too sensitive to temperature are. F1 should leave its blue flag rules alone and concentrate on these problems instead.



You say

Do F1’s blue flag rules need changing? If so, how?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

How would you change F1's blue flag rules?

  • Make it much easier for leaders to lap traffic (5%)
  • Make it slightly easier for leaders to lap traffic (7%)
  • Leave the rules as they are (47%)
  • Make it slightly harder for leaders to lap traffic (15%)
  • Make it much harder for leaders to lap traffic (22%)
  • No opinion (4%)

Total Voters: 249

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72 comments on “Do F1’s blue flag rules need changing?”

  1. If blue flag rules are simplified (aka removed) it might ironically further complicate the sport. Backmarkers could influence results by letting some cars ease passed and block others, getting away without penalties. This wouldn’t have to do with ‘skill of overtaking’, which the removal of blue flags is intended to highlight. It might let loose an intra-team politics war that would be impossible to understand for most viewers. For instance, Toro Rosso drivers would help Red Bull drivers, and Mercedes-powered teams might aid the factory team by holding up Ferrari, while Ferrari might ask the same beneficial treatment from Haas. More a Game of Throne-esque complicated pattern of ‘families’ than a fair sport.

    1. We had indeed such behavior in the years before the blue flags became what they are today. Very annoying.

    2. Yeah, I agree with that @jaapgrolleman, currently there is little chance we wouldn’t get back to at least feeling that drivers would help/hurt others based on who the team owners, or engine partners were. Changing the rules would make sense if it was less overly easy to block for ages, while it can be “interesting” to see backmarkers influence the race, there would just be far too much chance for potentially upsetting a good fight for the lead.

      It is not nice for backmarkers (I watched Button lose up to 3.5 seconds from letting leaders by in Monaco, for example), it’s can still be frustrating for leaders. But at least we haven’t had any obvious cases where it ruined an exciting race either recently. In other words, we haven’t really seen anything obviously pointing to the rules being the issue here recently, so I don’t see the need for changing them. There are more important things the sport has to adress.

    3. It seems to me that holding up depending on loyalty is already going on with the current rules anyway, it’s just a little less obvious!
      I think it’s practically impossible to eliminate by rules all possible ways an engine-supplied team can possibly help their engine-supplier team. You just have to accept that that’s the way the sport works the way it’s set up now. I personally feel it would be better for the sporting side of F1 to disconnect constructors from race teams entirely and force every race team (racing competition) to pick an engine from one of the engine suppliers (engine competition) so that all racing teams stand on common ground instead of the current ‘2nd class’ teams.

    4. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      19th June 2017, 16:13

      Blue Flags are a sticking plaster for the real problem.

      In years gone by the leaders could easily overtake cars that were a lap behind and not be massively affected by them.

      Nowadays it’s so hard to overtake because of dirty air, even cars a lap behind are hard to overtake because of this. This is the real problem.

      If addressed the blue flag problem will go away.

    5. This a circuit racing, so laps are there and drivers have to live with them. It is not them against the clock like other motorsports. On-track fights should be common. We want to see how good top drivers really are, alone and in traffic. A complete driver should master all the situations. Top drivers earn a lot more money that those on the back. Well I want to see how good they really are when they face some traffic. If a lapped driver can slow down a top driver, then probably he is not that good. If a driver is on the front, he should demonstrate that he worth it so he should fight for overtaking lapped cars too.

      We are used to see how STR drivers have to open the door to RBR drivers while blocking other drivers, and it is legal. I do not mind seeing that for lapped drivers too. The more fighting, the best for F1 fans.

      Leading drivers and teams should face the consequences of pushing so hard and drivers on the back shouldn’t be punished to slow them even more. In order to do that I’d completely remove the blue flags. This would also help on packing the race so it would be more exciting until the very end. The new situation could also lead top teams to bring some help to slower teams. The situation right now seems to benefit ONLY to top teams while punishing teams with less resources in every single factor. The situation should be reversed.

  2. Keith Both are ending with “The rules should be changed to make it harder for the leaders to get through traffic.”

    1. Lets not forget that the concept of traffic is because, a race from point A to point B over several hundred miles, is impractical to conduct without over a city or country. So we folded up the length of the race into repetitive loops.
      Technically, if you overtake a car, you shouldn’t set eyes on it anymore, unless it suddenly becomes faster than you.
      Back markers have no business interrupting the leaders. Finding a solution that is not too disruptive for those lagging behind is the challenge. There is also competition at the back too, that is influenced by those who are far ahead.

  3. Hi Keith, both options mean the same thing, “But are they getting too little help making their way through traffic – or not enough?

  4. There is no way to make blue flags rules that do not lead to regular complaints. I found it quite funny when the motorsport manager game triggered the same discussions, with gamers in online forums often being a bit less diplomatic than F1-personnel. Now in comparison to real F1, a game like this has the advantage of having thousands of races run per day and the possibility to patch it (aka change the blue flag rules) every few weeks. What they ended up doing, and what quickly minimized the amount of posts these discussions were getting, was to give players the option to play without blue flags.

    Also, I miss Andrea de Cesaris. There was always such thrilling suspense when the leaders came to lap him.

  5. I don’t like the many (complicated) rules either, but drivers demanding ‘blue flags, blue flags’ in a hight pitched voice should be reprimanded ;)

    And for the blue flag rules themselves:
    – it should be advisory only (beware faster car behind);
    – show it to any driver who has an ‘unlapped car’ within 2sec behind;
    – lapped car does not get DRS (during blue flag period)
    – unlapped car gets DRS everywhere until it passes the lapped car.

    1. @f1-liners To be brutally honest, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Having DRS everywhere would probably give an advantage of around 1.5-2 seconds around the average circuit, which would lead to drivers maybe purposely staying behind traffic, or teams trying to use their other drivers to give the leading one an advantage through unlimited DRS.

      1. That’s exactly why it would work, @mashiat.
        – You need those 1.5-2sec to pass the 2Blapped car.
        – You lose DRS the moment you’ve passed them
        – Same for all (front runners)

        PS how does ‘purposely staying behind (slower) traffic’ give you an advantage? ;)

        1. @f1-liners I tend to agree with @mashiat here. There’s some things why I think I abuse your suggestion:
          – Blocking with slower car is much easier than overtaking with faster car.
          – Not every part of the circuit is overtake friendly. In fact, most of the circuit only have 1 or 2 places where generally said you can overtake there. (Notice the keyword is can because most other part is usually deemed impossible or at the very least improbable.)
          – 2s is pretty far distance in F1 (usually a striking distance for overtake is less than 0.5s, and even 0.3s doesn’t guarantee a side-by-side at the end of the straight).

          Assuming I was leading the battle with a faster car approaching behind me (maybe I got older tires or just don’t have the pace to match them at this stage of the race), I can hang around behind backmarker, keeping my distance around 1.9s so I get the DRS advantage while my pursuer won’t doesn’t have it (aside from getting within 1s from me of course). What I’m gonna do is drive slowly in part where its easy to block or outright impossible to overtake, and use DRS on straight or when it matter. Since my pursuer must stick to DRS zone and I got free DRS for whole track, I got lot of advantage. And with 2s buffer, it should give me lot of buffer space to survive the risky part of the circuit without actually need to lap the backmarker and fall back again on safe part of the circuit.

          1. I get the DRS advantage while my pursuer won’t doesn’t have it (aside from getting within 1s from me of course).

            getting within 1s will be ‘easy’ if you go at the pace of the 2Blapped car ;)
            @sonicslv

            PS and blocking for a 2Blapped car should be a penalty anyway.

          2. @f1-liners Yes, but my point is I got DRS from within 2s of backmarker which grants me whole track DRS use. Meanwhile, my pursuer only got DRS from me which means he can only use DRS at designated DRS zone. That important fact is what I exploit by keeping my distance roughly 1.9s from a backmarker. Since we fighting for position, that means it’s legal for me to drive as slowly as I want and blocking my pursuer overtake attempt. The backmarker itself can’t get penalty if I keep my distance behind him since 1.9s would be translated to couple hundred meters and he actually not blocking me.

          3. I understand, @sonicslv. That would be an interesting tactic, but I’m not worried about it and kudos who can pull it off.
            A backmarker is typically 2s/lap slower, thus if the leader wants to slow down to that speed and the #2 cannot find a spot to overtake, then the #2 is not good enough.
            Furthermore, your ‘worry’ is just as valid now. The leader catches a backmarker stays within 0.9 sec just before DRS zone, closes the gap and stays behind again, etc. etc.

            In the suggested form you would typically find that when the leaders catches up with the backmarkers they will find a quick way around them (even in Monaco) as they are faster anyway and they have additional DRS.
            And as soon as the leader hast passed or is close to the backmarker, #2 will be within 2s and can follow the leader.
            Maybe we should just try it once.

    2. @f1-liners
      DRS everywhere is already dismissed as unsafe.

    3. We don’t know which drivers demand “blue flags” for the simple reason that we get to hear/read perhaps one or two percent of all driver radio communications. That gives certain people considerable power to shape public perception by which they chose to release.

      1. Also, making fun of Hamilton’s voice seems a bit below the belt.

        1. I hope you’re joking.
          But based on earlier comments I doubt that.

          Besides the fact that you clearly missed the emoticon, please try to keep an open mind when reading stuff here. Not all critical comments are aimed at Hamilton.
          I’m sure that most others ‘got it’.

          1. I know who you were taking the shot at. You might want to work on your own sense of humor.

          2. And here I thought you were saying Vettel. :)

          3. @fireblade He’s talking about Vettel, so you might want to work on your knowledge.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    18th June 2017, 12:47

    I created a thread on the planet f1 forum questioning the blue flag rules. I think ther are very unfair. If a driver has the pace to lap another, they should have the pace to overtake them. If they don’t, then too bad. I don’t see why the lapped driver should have to make way for them and cost themselves time. Lets look back to Monaco in recent years such as 2014. Hulkenberg, (who was 5th) was lapped. Does that mean he had to constantly compromise his own race to let the leaders through? 5th was a very valuable position for Force India. I like the way they have been more relaxed this year. Many people complained about what Massa did in Russia but since he was still in the points, I don’t think he should have had to try any harder to get out the way. It wasn’t his fault he got lapped.

    The big problem is when a lapped driver happens to have just come out of the pits on a new set of tyres. They are very often faster than the leaders. I remember this happening one time with Kobyashi overtaking Vettel in 2014. I also remember Haryanto coming out the pits last year in Spain just ahead of the leaders. He got blue flags, but he was faster at that point and started to pull away. Even when this happens, they sometimes have to affect their own race which to me is really unfair since they clearly are not slower than the leaders at this point in time.

    1. @thegianthogweed

      If a driver has the pace to lap another, they should have the pace to overtake them.

      That’s not how it works in F1. Just because the car behind is quicker doesn’t mean that he can overtake.

      Does that mean he had to constantly compromise his own race to let the leaders through? 5th was a very valuable position for Force India.

      Yes, because the cars behind him also had to do the same. Does Rosberg have to compromise his own race because some Manor 4 seconds a lap slower than him in Monaco is ahead of him in track position (albeit a lap down)?

      It wasn’t his fault he got lapped.

      Right, Maldonado’s fault right?

      Even when this happens, they sometimes have to affect their own race which to me is really unfair since they clearly are not slower than the leaders at this point in time.

      They only wave blue flags if the car behind is being held up and is close enough. If Haryanto was indeed pulling away AND wasn’t holding the leaders up, then it was incorrect to wave the blue flag at him. Hamilton didn’t get a blue flag in Germany 2012 even when he had Vettel directly behind him, simply because he was quicker. The Haas I think it didn’t need to let Verstappen through in China this year even though he was behind, because the lapped car was able to match his pace.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        18th June 2017, 15:04

        2 of your points you are arguing against me don’t make sence. What has Maldonado got to do with this? I saiz it wasn’t Massa’s fault he got lapped in Russia. he got a slow puncture and still had a very fast car. Possibly the fastest on the fast part of the tracks.

        If you say if a driver is pulling away and they shouldn’t wave blue flags, that is exactly what they did in Spain 2016. Haryanto had just pitted and had pulled out just ahead of Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel. A couple of laps had past and he had quite clearly pulled away a little even though he was still getting blue flags. He eventually pulled over to let all 3 through which cost him a great deal of time. He was getting blue flags the whole time.

        I agree with your first point, maybe I ‘m not right there. But I still personally don’t see why the lapped drivers shouuld have to affect their own race more than the leaders do.

      2. @thegianthogweed The Maldonado thing was sarcasm. Although it may not be “Massa’s fault” due to the puncture, doesn’t mean that it should be any different to other backmarkers getting lapped. Context isn’t relevant when it comes to lapping cars. It doesn’t matter if it was Massa’s fault or the puncture’s fault, bottom line is he is slower than the leaders and holding them up. It isn’t the leaders’ fault as well, so why should they lose time behind a backmarker?

  7. Blue flags should be tied to the DRS. That means they are only shown on DRS zones, and only if the leading car is within DRS range of the lapped car in question at the DRS detection point. On the other hand the lapped car has to let the leading car by at the same DRS zone where the blue flag is shown. In cases there is 1 detection point for 2 DRS zones the lapped car has until the end of the second zone to the leading car by.

    1. @paulk Then that would add more of an element of luck for drivers, as in someone who catches them just before a DRS zone doesn’t lose any time, but someone that catches them several corners before does get disadvantaged, which I feel is unfair.

      1. @mashiat, that is already the case to an extent. If the leading driver catches the backmarker in the twisty part of a circuit he will have to wait longer than if it was in the straight. My proposal makes it a little more extreme in that regard but on the other hand gives a guaranteed overtaking spot per lap (no more 3 blue flags to move out bs) and makes prevents lapped cars’ races from being ruined so often.

  8. I think there have been more shouts of “blue flag” this year, and at first I thought it was the drivers being impatient and so on… But now I’m starting to think that this year’s cars are so much worse to follow that the guy who is coming up behind feels the “dirty air” effect and can’t get any closer, and thinks he is in blue flag range so starts complaining that the flags aren’t being waved… but he isn’t actually close enough as the rules now stand.

    How to fix it is obvious – make the cars easier to follow! But we all know that won’t happen. So maybe the blue flag period (and possibly the Drs as it is the same effect and problem) needs to be a bit longer? Like 1.5 seconds behind?

  9. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
    18th June 2017, 14:20

    I think we have to be careful about changes based on complaints. Cause, lets be fair, drivers complain a lot. Let the people who complain come up with a solution first.

  10. Blue flags should definitely be in the sport. Otherwise we might see instances of teams getting one of their drivers to gain an advantage. If they are one lap ahead, why should they have to overtake a backmarker as if it was for position. The same drivers who complain about having to let the leaders through would complain if the situation was reversed. Just an observation (not really relating to the article), but driver who have always been at or near the back i.e. Gutierrez tend to be more problematic for leaders than Alonso, Button, Schumacher etc. Probably because they haven’t seen the other sides’ view.

  11. “Lapping traffic used to be a vital part of a racing driver’s skill. But the rules are now so strict the leaders just cruise up behind slower cars and complain on the radio until they move aside.”

    My view is fairly simple. Le Mans style rules, laped traffic must stay on the racing line. No defending allowed. But no need to let them pass. Stay on the racing line that is.

    I get terribly annoyed when battle for P9 is interrupted by leaders lapping the field yet again.

    If you can lap 1 lap faster per race, you should be able to overtake. if you cannot well, then be stuck behind lapped traffic.

    1. I agree. Lapping is responsibility of the faster car; lapped cars on the racing line but must not defend (nor be boneheads). Lapped cars still need to be given blue flags, though, IMO.

  12. In cycling, if you’re lapped, you’re out of the race.
    I would like to see that in F1.
    Just for giggles.

    1. Problem is that F1 need more cars in the field and cycling doesnt.

    2. The problem is that the lead cars are so much faster that a large portion of the cars get lapped each race.

      In Spain only the first three cars were on the same lap and Hamilton was reasonably close to lapping Ricciardo as well. That would make for an awfully empty track.

    3. Yes, I like that idea as well. “Pull and place” like cycling. Think about the cost savings for the back markers. Some could make it through the season on 2 engines. It would be a win-win. Obviously, the only drawback would be the lack of cars on track at the end.

  13. Neil (@neilosjames)
    18th June 2017, 14:38

    I think the current rules are pretty much fine as they are. They allow the leaders to get through relatively easily and rarely ruin or badly affect an ongoing fight between the leading cars.

    The downside is that on some circuits especially (Monaco, for example) they can severely compromise a backmarker’s race, but… without wishing to sound like Bernie, the leading cars are more important to me. Without blue flags, their races could be utterly trashed by backmarkers.

    I’m hoping that once they (if they) get round to sorting out the revenue distribution, the performance difference between the front of the grid and the rear might be reduced. If that happens there’ll be fewer cars being lapped, and blue flags may be less of an issue.

    1. There was actually a very good scrap between Max Verstappen and I think it was Romain Grosjean … I think it was in 2015, where Verstappen was trying to overtake Grosjean. It involves of the best overtaking defences I’ve ever seen. In the middle of this scrap along came one of the race leaders, it might have been Vettel, and of course the Blue Flag was waved. Verstappen immediately let Vettel go passed him thinking that he’d get by Grosjean when he too let Vettel go passed. However, Grosjean showed the skill of a master craftsman and slowed down on a sharp corner where the window of opportunity to pass was just sufficient to let one car through. So Vettel saw the path car in front of him pull aside and the opportunity to overtake and went, and Verstappen, who was just metres behind Vettel, saw the window of opportunity close the moment Vettel was clear of Grosjean.

  14. I’ve always felt the blue flag rules should go back to how they used to be which is more like the Indycar model of been used to advise the driver that a faster car is behind them but not putting them in a position where they have to jump out the way.

    The biggest problem with the rules as they are is that it was ruin people’s races by costing lapped cars a chunk of time as they have to jump out the way. You could make the argument that there slow & them losing time is irrelevant, However when you have leaders lapping cars in the points or cars fighting for the final points places & with points been linked to prize money & stuff it becomes much more critical.

    I can’t remember who it was (Maybe Alex Rossi?) who said a few years ago that they had spent most of the race struggling for grip & destroying there tyres because in having to jump out the way they were picking up marbles which was dropping there tyre temperatures that was putting there tyres outside the operating window that was costing them more grip & causing there tyres to fall off the cliff much sooner due to been outside the optimum operating window. He said it was a never ending cycle of a team already struggling a bit for pace been made to struggle even more due to the blue flag rules been as strict as they are.

    It should be much more in the hands of the drivers than it is…. Dealing with traffic used to be a core skill which some drivers were naturally better at than others & which did lead to some exciting & unexpected bits of racing (Mansell passing Senna in traffic at Hungaroring in 1990 for example). Watching Senna fight his way through traffic was sometimes just as exciting & mesmerizing as watching an actual fight for position & I think it’s an aspect that has been lost over the past 20 odd years since the current blue flag rules were brought in.

  15. Blue flags aren’t the problem. The problem is that the top 2 teams could start a lap behind and could still become 3th. You need to close the pack up. Really. You can’t also remove blue flags because people would just drop their 2nd driver from the start and start hindering leading opponents, which would change the sport completely.

    But to solve this you need just to make sure the pack is covered by 1,5 seconds.

    1. @xiasitlo making F1 a spec series?

      1. Semi-spec. Complaining about Pirelli, blue flags, DRS doesn’t solve anything. You need to start the season with a 5/10 engine suppliers and 5/10 different chassis-makers that differentiate in suiting some circuits better then others before a season and from the first practise teams can start improving their engines and chassis so that at the end the pack won’t be that spread out like now but be closer in the first half of the season.

        I know it sounds horrible for nostalgic people but we can’t just go in this the current direction, what will happen is that the Strategy Group + Renault will just run 3 cars (already in the regulations) and bring in a team like Audi to make it 20 cars and they will run F1 for 20 years in a nouveau-rich fashion, cause Carey can’t really do anything without taking the veto-right from the SG.

        1. F1 is not just about the drivers and close racing. It is also an engineering competition between the teams to build the best car. There is a reason that there is a drivers’ and a constructors’ championship. If you want spec or semi-spec racing there are tons of series out there for you. F1 is where the independent teams challenge the factory teams with their own equipment, not old equipment or tier 2 equipment from the factory teams.

          You would also lose tons of fans by doing that. A good percentage of F1 fans watch F1 for the technical side of things and to see 10 of the greatest car designs in the world compete on a regular basis.

  16. Robert McKay
    18th June 2017, 15:41

    Actually, probably the easiest fix is “leave the rules as they are and simply quit broadcasting the whiny “blue flags” team radio messages so they don’t bore everyone watching”…

    1. I entirely agree with that. I’ve never understood why we have this problem of F1 knowing people find the complaining off putting yet they still broadcast it like it’s royally entertaining for us.

      Either ban the complaining or don’t broadcast it.

  17. While its true that with today’s cars leaders would have a harder time lapping cars if they had to work for it, I find the rules way too generous in favor of the lapping car. Sure there is room for abuse if lapped cars aren’t forced to scoot out of the way, but there are also ways to police and sanction that sort of thing if it came down to it. The rules as they stand only widen the performance gap between F1’s haves and have-nots, and deprive us of the spectacle of watching the best drivers in the best cars working their skills to the fullest. I say F1 should always err on the side of racecraft.

  18. The most irritating thing with lapping cars is when a duel between two cars gets destroyed because the one infront gets free DRS from passing lapped cars all the time. If you are lapping a car you should be more than capable of passing it on your own without DRS.

    I think the rules should be under blue flag you are not allowed to make defensive moves and you only get DRS from cars on the same lap as you.

  19. I must say I didn’t really like the strict blue flag rules in the modern F1 era. I don’t know when they were changed, as prior to 2010 the field was so competitive that traffic was usually not too much of a problem, but since then back-markers had to get out of the way almost immediately, thereby sacrificing their races.
    However, this year the dirty air is so extreme that cars lose downforce if they’re within two seconds or so of each other. Especially if the pace differential is relatively minor, it will be quite hard for the leader to even get within DRS range. As the dirty air problem won’t be fixed in the near future, I think the best solution is to wave the blue flags slightly earlier.

  20. I don’t like the idea of getting rid of blue flags. The natural result of that would be that ferrari, merc and renault and red bull would simply use their 2nd and 3rd teams as road blocks. This doesn’t make racing more exciting. It makes the racing more frustrating. Instead of having fights for the lead decided by driving skill they are decided by luck and unsportsmanlike blocking and most of the time you don’t get any battles for the wins on the track because teams deploy these tactics to prevent it.

    Not only would it be bad for the quality of racing in the top but it would have really bad knockoff on the midpack. Teams would need to sacrifice their races all the time just to keep rival manufacturer’s top team behind you for a lap or two. Adjusting your pitstops so you end up in front of the driver you want to block. This would completely ruin the races for the midpack teams. And not just that but this kind of system would encourage teams to go all out with driver number one and driver number two policies. If you are number two your sole mission in every race is to block people who are lapping you while letting your number team mate (or top team driver) ahead.

    And just imagine what this would do to a team like sauber? They need the money so if someone like merc or ferrari gives them a small discount in engine prices if they just block the rival top constructor team then they have to accept it. More likely what will happen is that ALL engine contracts will come with these blocking clauses. If you want a ferrari engine you must block every renault, mercedes and honda as much as you can. This means teams like sauber lose a lot of their independence because every race they get a call from their engine manufacturer to hold someone up. This means the sauber can earn less points which makes them earn less prize money which makes them even more dependant on the factory team engine discounts causing them to block even more. This in turn makes them slower in the race and makes the gulf between the top and midfield teams even larger.

    I think the big teams already have way too much power in f1. Blue flags is not issue about blue flags. It is issue with the performance disparity between the teams. Fix the performance gap and the blue flags issue goes away. Taking the blue flags away only makes the performance gap issue worse.

    There is a reason why we have blue flags. The race win should be decided by a duel between the fastest drivers. They fight against each other and the better one should win. The winner should not be decided based on who can play more dirty tricks to harm their opponents the most.

  21. jayteeniftb
    18th June 2017, 18:33

    Yes. Get rid of them and the mandatory pit stop. Let the racing speak for itself.

  22. I voted for ”Leave the rules as they are” although I thought about voting for ”Make it slightly easier for leaders to lap traffic” as well but decided to go with the former.

  23. I voted make it harder because the cars are too sensitive to turbulent air…. I think it is the only way to force the engineers to find solutions to turbulent air, which once they succeed, will make all racing more interesting.
    TBH, I do think certain teams have worked on it somewhat as some teams have been able to follow others relatively close for longer periods without ruining their tyres (Ferrari is one them).

  24. SevenFiftySeven
    18th June 2017, 19:18

    There is simply no point in racing a guy who is one lap ahead, and the same logic applies to the guy who is one lap behind. If drivers’ traffic negotiation skills are to be tested, reverse the grid for the race. The faster guys, who are usually ahead of the slower guys one or several laps down, will eventually be overtaken – because they are faster. There is no point in prolonging this inevitability in cases where two drivers are simply not racing each other. What about the slower pack of cars that have to, sometimes, compromise their own races by letting the faster guys through? That’s the price one pays for being one or several laps behind the leaders. This is again part of the sport. They lose sometimes and other times they don’t. The same applies to the cars lapping slower cars. Sometimes, they lose time; sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, both leaders and some backmarkers come out in a better position. These things even out in the course of time.

    Drivers complain. It’s in their nature. They don’t want to lose any time. Well, sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t. That is racing. Blue flags don’t mean get out the way. It just means don’t hold up the guy behind who isn’t racing you, as in deliberately holding up the car behind. The lapped cars don’t have to brake and wait for the guy behind to approach them. Drivers have enough time to prepare with single blues and double waved blues to decide where to get off the racing line without losing too much time. The lapping cars also need to be prepared in how to execute the pass. It’s difficult in some tracks; easier in others. Again, this is part of racing. If we just stop broadcasting the blue flag winnings, we get back to something that isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.

    Trophies are given to the top 3. There are no trophies for the greatest backmarker, just as there are no trophies for how many overtakes a leader makes in a race, or how well one negotiates traffic.

  25. F1 should focus on creating a formula with less overlapped cars. With customer teams there has to be some system to stop foul play. I would consider relaxing the 4 flag rule though to give a little more weight/time to the overlapped car(s) so they dont have to abort their dual by quickly jumping out of the way or parking it in corners or dangerous areas of the track that way most of this can be sorted out on the straights.

  26. While I agree the blue flag rule is not the main problem, it’s still should be made difficult for leaders to lap traffic, so to make it a skill again. Of course the dirty aero is a much worse problem but this whining on the radio must stop. And the loss of time involved, should by itself prevent excessive fighting on behalf of the backmarkers, as it would interfere with their races. However, it’s the overtaking driver that should go on the dirty side to pass. Poor backmarker is a lap behind already no need to penalize him any further

  27. It would be absolutely great if the blue flag rules could conveniently be relaxed. Not so much because it would require more skill from the lead drivers. Not so much because it would spice up some races. But most importantly, it would provide a huge advantage for cars which run efficiently in dirty air. Which it turn would mean that designers and engineers would deliberately sacrifice some raw speed in favor of less sensitive aerodynamics. Then for sure we would finally get the – at least somewhat – closer racing we are craving for, without the need for expensive and lengthy studies to be turned into new rules, only for designers and engineers to find loopholes in them. You want close racing ? Make running in dirty air a must for getting F1 wins.

    Unfortunately, as many have mentioned, giving more leverage to the lapped drivers would run into thorny political problems. For one, sister teams would be helping each other and making things difficult for opponents, so it would be paramount to increase the number of “friendly” teams. And even if one would manage to sever the links we know exist between teams, they would find the way of making secret arrangements, which would make the racing both very unfair and arcane to the viewers.

    1. it would provide a huge advantage for cars which run efficiently in dirty air. Which it turn would mean that designers and engineers would deliberately sacrifice some raw speed in favor of less sensitive aerodynamics. Then for sure we would finally get the – at least somewhat – closer racing we are craving for, without the need for expensive and lengthy studies to be turned into new rules, only for designers and engineers to find loopholes in them. You want close racing ? Make running in dirty air a must for getting F1 wins.

      That’s an interesting point. Not sure I agree with it, but it’s a good argument.

  28. Blue flags should be enforced way more strictly, that is, penalties for lapped cars that don’t get out of the way fast enough should be very severe.

    Call me a “casual fan” if you will, but I don’t really care much about “the midfield.” This is the first season in perhaps 7 years that we actually have an multi-team fight for race wins and championships, so who cares if McLaren picks up a few points here and there. At the end of the day, the headlines will all talk about the lead cars, so I don’t see why “blackmarkers” should get in the way of this fight.

    That’s like telling the two teams which already reached the World Cup final they need to beat these weak teams first before they can play their own match. And if these weak teams drain out the players’ strength and make the final a borefest, we should let them do that because all teams are equal. Because who watches the World Cup for the final anyway? It’s the Group Stage that’s the fun part.

  29. Know that there will be more cars hitting each other if the rules are removed.
    If you didnt know how F1 works theres a temptation to say remove the blue flags let them overtake but as we all know its never as simple as that.
    Mark Webber upside down after smacking into the back of Kovalainen? a high speed car passing a slower car huge speed difference and a horrific accident follows.
    Only thing I can think of to help is for the rules to be enforced more strictly I remember Sutil moaning about a penalty for disobeying blue flags on Ham and he said “he was only behind me for 1 lap”

  30. SevenFiftySeven
    19th June 2017, 11:24

    Given that most racetracks have several layouts, racing routes for cars could be changed at certain points. If a car is in the lapping window (that is, if it is below a certain time threshold compared to the leaders), they would have the option of, say, taking another road at, say, turn 3, and rejoining at turn 5 as the leaders take the normal route without even encountering the backmarkers. Let’s say 3 alternative route points in a racetrack.

    The alternative route could be slower or faster than the normal route, depending on who is taking it and how they are used. Slower routes can also be used for penalties. Just for example, let’s take the old penultimate corner at Cataluniya (the fast right hander). Leading cars could avoid the chicane and go through this fast route, whereas the slower cars being lapped could take the chicane. The current chicane was placed there to slow the cars down, so this example may not work for safety reasons. There are similar adjoining roads on most tracks.

    If this can be used as a solution, backmarkers will be shown one blue flag before the next adjoining alternative route and continue to battle amongst themselves. The alternative route can also be a strategic element of the race, depending on whether it is faster or slower and who goes over it. We could also fashion the alternative routes in such a way that the car facing imminent lapping can un-lap itself before he is lapped to have all cars finish in the same lap, though the top teams may not like this. This overall idea is a little bit out there. If we look at it from a realistic point of view, F1 is a 2 or 3-tier event and has always been like that. Let’s acknowledge it and let the backmarkers run a race within a race, which is exactly what they’re having to do.

  31. Why does F1 keep debating about the rules that makes the most sense and things that don’t need changing like blue flag rule, weekend format etc, instead of focusing on the real problems. It’s infuriating and makes them look stupid. As stupid as Sky team sound like when they suggest one of these.

  32. I voted for “Make it much harder for leaders to lap traffic” but this is not the real reason I am voting. My opinion is, stop screwing up backmarkers’ races!

  33. Keep the current rules with one change:

    In 2 to 4 designated sections of each track (usually long straights), backmarkers MUST get out of the way or be DQed and penalized. Take away points or qualifying positions (or don’t let the team partake in qualifying, period). Punishment with teeth will make drivers move over.

    If there is a manufacturer’s conflict of interest, punish the team that benefitted from another team blocking. Examples:

    1) A team with customer Ferrari engines blocks a team with different engines to help Ferrari increase a lead. Throw up a yellow flag or safety car to bunch up the field and take away any advantage.

    2) A team with Mercedes customer engines blocks to let Mercedes catch up or pass, give Mercedes a drive through penalty.

  34. One thing that irritates me is the way F1 feels it is special in this regard. All other international racing is run with the same blue flag rules, and these are similar to national rules too. Essentially, a flag marshal makes a judgement, often at a distance, of who is trying to pass whom, and why, and if a blue is needed, then waves the heck out of it. This is why there is sometimes lapping without a blue, or a blue when it’s not needed. But usually, the judgements are pretty spot on. You can use the body language of the cars and sometimes see the movements of the driver in the cockpit and can tell what they’re about to do, whether it’s let him pass or chop him up. You also have to follow the race, keep track of who is where and who is faster. WEC races are easy to blue flag, where cars have big speed differentials. Blancpain is harder, with multiple pit stops, cars of similar performance, and driver changes sometimes making a fast car bizarrely slow a lap later. But here’s the best bit: everyone manages. In F1, blue flagging is directed from race control based on position and proximity. And whilst an automated, reactive system could potentially work well, it seems that leading drivers expect more from it (and are left frustrated) whilst trailing cars are bullied by it.

    Final word: the actual rules (outside F1) describe the blue as an ‘advisory flag’ similar to the stripy change of surface ‘oil’ flag. It just means ‘look out’. Just as marshals make a judgment hanging it out, its up to the drivers to make a judgement on how best to react.

  35. YES, the blue flag rules need to be changed. They need some teeth added to them.
    I don’t want to see any driver whose contribution to an event is that he stopped a faster driver from competing with another fast driver . Move over right away or be penalized and the penalty should have some bite to it . I suggest 5 grid spots for the 1st offense , 10 for the 2nd and a disqualification for a race upon the 3rd offense. Further there should be no hesitation ,move immediately or be black flagged .
    We all saw Massa get in Vettel’s way after appearing to let Bottas ( his ex team mate ) drive by . This cost us , the fans an opportunity to see if Vettel could have caught up to Bottas . maybe massa’s act was on purpose maybe not, it does not matter . it detracted form the race . I don’t want to see the slower cars struggle for a place or two if it means ruining a race for a podium position or even better .
    Some have said the better drivers in the better cars SHOULD show they are better by simply passing the back markers. That is ignoring the reality of modern F1 cars and tracks . Overtaking is so difficult with dirty air having the affect it does on front-wing dependent cars and with tracks being often narrow and todays cars so wide overtaking can’t be done save for one or two places if at all so what you have is lap after lap of a race slowed down to the pace of the lesser cars . Not what F1 should be . I want to see the best at their best not a pace set by the lowest denominator and that is what weak or no blue flags will bring.
    If you got lapped there is usually a reason-you are slow . So get out of the way and let those with pace that day compete for the prize .
    Finally, as said before : put teeth into the rule. Make the penalty for failing to move aside so severe that no driver will dare hold back a faster car . The result will be true competition for the top spots and is that not that what F1 should always be about.
    Leave the ” participation trophies” for youth sports and let the men race .

  36. Let’s complicate the rules even further :)
    Make the race 15% shorter for lapped cars. So when there’s like 10 laps remaining, all lapped cars has to pit and they get their classification. The rest of the pack continue and we get a clean race to the finish.

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