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This interpretation has not been superseded by other instructions from Whiting since.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