Lewis Hamilton’s hypocrisy over yellow flags

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TJ13 has persistently stated that yellow flags should mean “slow down and be prepared to stop” but at the same time has contended that the responsibility to enforce this lies with the race director.

Given the criticism of his team mate’s behavior under yellow flags in Hungary, the irony of Lewis Hamilton’s call for clarification on yellow flag behaviour may not be lost on this weekend’s crowd in Germany.

The last time F1 was in Hockenheim, Lewis Hamilton himself was subject to double waved yellow flags as he hurtled around the last corner only to discover Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber being attended to on the pit straight by marshals.

Hamilton claimed after the race he was shocked and dramatically claimed to have had flash backs to memories of watching the harrowing footage from the 1977 South African GP when Welshman Tom Pryce hit a marshal who was crossing the track with a fire extinguisher. Both men were killed in the incident.

Yet when Nico Rosberg stole pole position from Hamilton in Hungary last week, Lewis questioned Charlie Whiting on whether action should be taken against the his Mercedes team mate. Also in the post race press conference Hamilton stated, “In the whole 23 years of racing it has been, if it’s yellow flag, you slow down, and if it is double yellow, be prepared to stop,”

Those who remember Hockenheim in 2014 may well be inclined to ask why Lewis failed to ‘slow down and be prepared to stop’ when driving through the final corner. The reason Hamilton was not penalised was because he in fact complied with a directive from Whiting which required the drivers to merely demonstrate they had ‘lifted’.

Autosport reported in March that year that Charlie Whiting had codified the yellow flag regulations for the drivers as follows. They have been told by F1 race director Charlie Whiting that they must now slow down by 0.2 seconds compared to their best sector time for single yellow flags, and 0.5s for double waved yellows”.

This interpretation has not been superseded by other instructions from Whiting since.

It seems rather self-serving, churlish and hypocritical of Lewis Hamilton to subsequently demand when his team mate abides by the current codified instructions for yellow flags, that the WMC standard of ‘slow down and be prepared to stop’ be applied.

Fernando Alonso gave his somewhat tongue in cheek on the matter in Germany today. “I have been racing 16 years in Formula 1 and 31 in motorsport,” the Spaniard remarked in comparative fashion. “And we have always had a single yellow and a double yellow and there have never been any issues apart from when you are fighting for the world championship and apart from when Nico is doing it.” he said smiling.

“So I don’t see a problem, it was not a problem, it will not be any problem in the future – there is no need for any clarification in my opinion.”

The reality of the situation is Charlie Whiting’s codification of the WMC regulation is woefully inadequate, but while it stands the drivers are legitimate in following the letter of the law – whether safe or not.

11 responses to “Lewis Hamilton’s hypocrisy over yellow flags

  1. Whatever we may or may not think if Hamilton’s conduct, one thing is without question – the rule needs to be clarified so everyone understands what is required.

  2. too slow down yes! but to then set a purple sector that’s the bit which is so very wrong.

  3. I wonder why you say this “Lewis questioned Charlie Whiting on whether action should be taken against the his Mercedes team mate.” He asked for clarification into yellow flag rules not to ask for Nico to be punished, though it may have been to undermine him.

  4. This is the way I see it, Jules died because A – someone put a tractor where it shouldn’t have been and B – He didn’t slow down for yellow flags

    Now we are going to end up with the halo, which would not have saved him, while they can still go full tilt through yellow flags. And no matter what anyone says about lifting, to me that’s not slowing for a yellow flag

    The FIA should be sorting out this yellow flag crap first. Yes someone might lose out during a race because they had to slow down, tough luck, on the flipside if you don’t slow down, some idiot might put a tractor out there and you might just hit it and die.

  5. Shouldn’t the article mention that other drivers including Vettel had the same opinion as Hamilton?

    Of course it’s ‘juicier’ to criticise Hamilton and enjoy that intra-team battle on and off track, but rules on this lack clarity nevertheless.

    • I think the difference here is that Vettel made his comments post race weekend, he didn’t ask for clarification on yellow flag rules after qualifying in a fairly blatant attempt to get Rosbergs lap deleted. Take Austria earlier this month, Nasr, Palmer and Haryanto were all punished for not slowing under yellows. It spoke volumes that no one was asking for clarification then, whilst Hulk was deemed to have lifted sufficiently so as not to incur a penalty. Whatever the likes of Lewis and Alonso (and Vettel too) say they’ve both not slowed for double yellows in the past to be in a position where they’re prepared to stop, so getting on a high horse about it is pretty bloody rich.

      That said, Lewis and Seb are right, drivers should slow more for double waved flags and that has to come from the race director. Quite simply race direction need to revist the how much should a driver need to lift by to something far more appropriate like 3 seconds for yellows and 5 seconds for dbl yellows and punish those who don’t comply every single time with something like a drive-through pen in the race or a 10 place grid drop in qualifying/practice.

      The issues with Jules accident was that he could go flat out through the yellow zone and in race control because track conditions were deteriorating it may have looked like he was lifting, the reverse happened on Nico’s lap, he lifted but track conditions were rapidly improving resulting in a purple sector for him. That suggests to me that the amount a driver must lift can’t ever be 0.something seconds, rather several seconds vs their previous couple of laps in that sector.

  6. Very mature comments all round to click bait, I seem to remember Hamilton asking for the safety car in-order to remove to car.

  7. Haha, Fernando, once again, calling it as it is. 😀

    Like his driving, it appears Lewis’ media missives are quick (to come), but inconsistent – and always fun to watch.

    Bring on Germany!

    • I think after all these years Fernando would still be rather circumspect when discussing yellow flags lest he be accused of hypocrisy.
      After all he did ignore double waved yellows for a pretty huge accident and had an almighty accident himself caused by the debris.
      He was a luck young fella that afternoon for a couple of reasons.

      Regards Mike

    • You have to love the old dog…I would love to get him as an after dinner speaker. My respect for the guy multiplied ten fold after he sucked it up and returned to Mchonda the same goes for Seb, after leaving Redbull the kid found a voice.

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