Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has asked for clarification surrounding the yellow flags waving that provided a twist to Budapest qualifying.
After one of the longest Q1 sessions ever witnessed, Q3 was ramping up to provide some last minute excitement. All the cars were on track, and readying for a final hot lap of the session.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso lost control of his car at turn 9 and was facing the oncoming traffic. Double waved yellows appeared straight away, warning other drivers to “be prepared to stop”. This ruined nearly everyone’s final hot lap, everyone bar Nico.
Fernando managed to get going before Nico came around the corner, and the yellow flags were close to being removed as Nico approached. After seeing what looked like a nailed-on pole position disappear from his grasp, Lewis asked for clarification on what a yellow flag situation actually meant.
“Well yes, when it is a yellow flag it says that you have to be prepared to slow down or you have to slow down and lose some time,” he said. “When it is a double yellow it says be prepared for a car or marshal on track because you don’t know what is around the corner so you have to be prepared to stop, that is what it says.
“The clarification that is needed is… Nico only lost a tenth at the corner so if that is really what we are allowed to do in future for the likes of even if you lift when you approach a corner with due care if that is allowed on a double yellow, I thought that was the case in a single yellow, but on a double I thought you had to pay more caution to it. If it is only a tenth you have to lose that is now different for us drivers and we can approach it differently. But I’m sure not that is the safest approach.
“We’ve seen such incidents in the past. I seem to remember [Pastor] Maldonado nearly hitting a marshal at Monaco one time because he hadn’t slowed down enough and there was a marshal on the track.”
“Just more clarification would be good. For me there was no question I had to lift because Fernando was on track but perhaps for Nico I think Fernando had cleared but there were still flags. It is just a different scenario. Otherwise it is what it is and I will fight from where I am.”
Four hours after the event the stewards decided that Nico’s lap was legal, and that the championship leader would be allowed to keep his time. The stewards found that Nico did in fact lift sufficiently.
One thing is for sure, we will potentially have more Mercedes fireworks between the two championship rivals.