Flagging

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
The terrible accident at Suzuka has lead to many a discussion about what safety should be put onto the car. However, in the wake of Charlie Whiting's portrayal of the Race Control reaction as textbook, is it now time to consider what could become of the F1 textbook for future races?

It seems that it is absolutely vital that heavy machinery should not be allowed out onto the track without the drivers slowing down to a long way below race speed. It seems F1 is to experiment with the virtual Safety Car for a section, which is absolutely fantastic.

However, I don't believe I am the only one disenchanted with the Safety Car rules. The necessity for lapped runners to overtake the leaders then practically join up with the back of the field extends Safety Car periods unnecessarily, and is open to abuse as lapped Nick Heidfeld proved in Monaco 2008 by supporting team-mate Kubica's attempt to hold onto second place by failing to overtake. It can provide a 10 minute wait - and all of those laps coming off the race count.

One idea I have is to bin the idea of a Safety Car period. If the virtual Safety Car/slow zone procedure is successful, then it is less likely that the Safety Car is deployed. Anything too serious for the slow zone should thus be covered by a red flag.

The red flag would not be an effective solution if it created situations like Suzuka in 1994 where races are decided by aggregation, which it is fair to say suits no-one. This consideration is now, however, moot. The red flag would remove all risk from the situation by reducing even the slow speed (nonetheless high speed in a road car) circulating of the car. Furthermore, the fans do not lose 10 laps, rather they lose 2 (the lap to grid and then one lap SC). With the interminable length of current Safety Car periods, the red flag period could be cleared up in equivalent time, too.

One additional benefit is that the issue of lapped runners could be solved, as the lapped runners could simply be wheeled to the back of the queue. Best of all, the full race could be run, although that may interfere with the TV window, particularly in Singapore.

I'd like to invite you all to come up with your own Safety flagging ideas, whether to spice up the "show" or not, it would have to at least maintain safety. The best will not ever be adopted, but hey, that's life...

Author's note: This thread is about changes that could be made to F1 in the future. It is not about Jules Bianchi or his accident. Please share your ideas, but I humbly request that we refrain from assigning blame for the incident at Suzuka, or giving details of at which point flags should have been thrown in past races. Thankyou.
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
If drivers followed the rules of the flags as they stand or if the stewards enforced those rules more rigorously then there would be no need to change anything about the flagging system but I agree the safety car system is a total nonsense at the moment.

Edit.

I believe in British touring cars laps are added on to the race if a safety car is deployed, this may work in F1 if the safety car period is not counted as part of the two hour time limit..
 
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Dario Resta

Podium Finisher
Drivers will try to gain any advantage they can, wherever they can. I don't think I've ever seen an F1 car, under double waved yellows, anywhere near slow enough to stop if necessary. Because of this, unfortunately it is necessary to take it out of the drivers hands and an automatic predetermined limit put simultaneously onto every car in this situation. It's fair to everyone, takes driver interpretation of what slowing down enough means out of the equation and will reduce risk to track workers.

I don't want flags to spice things up in any way, the current blue flag rules are bad enough. As Niki Lauda said, "overtake or **** off." I know the context is different, but I know what I'm trying to say.
 

Greenlantern101

Super Hero And All Round Good Guy
Contributor
I like the idea of no safety car. How about instead of throwing a safety car all drivers simply use the pit stop speed limiter. That would allow everyone to maintain any gap advantage as well. Plus no need for lapped cars to unlap themselves.

They could also use the pit lane speed limit in a yellow flag zone, then everyone slows down the same amount and nobody gains an advantage or disadvantage.
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
Let us assume that the virtual safety car slows the cars under a local yellow so only the cars in the local yellow zone are slowed down now lets say that car is the leader and is leading by 10 seconds the second car on the track is not in the yellow zone so is not slowed and when he reaches the yellow zone it has turned green so the lead car has been slowed and the following car has not been giving a net gain to the driver in second place of goodness knows how many seconds...

Is that fair?
 
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F1Yorkshire

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Contributor
It needs to be a full course yellow if the incident is the equivalent of calling out the safety car. All cars would need to slow to the same delta time so no time lost. If it's just a normal yellow flag in a sub-sector then just the cars entering that zone would be slowed, the cars are supposed to be doing that now with the flags and its just unlucky if you hit the slow zone at a different time to other drivers.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I wouldn't be in favor of a Red Flag every time as that would provide too much damage to a race leader. At the moment, behind the safety car, at least there is a rolling start which is less random than making a standing start.

The trouble is, I haven't got a better solution at the moment so when I can think of something I'll get back to you :)
 

Dario Resta

Podium Finisher
Putting a predetermined automatic speed limit into all cars, regardless of where they are on track preserves all gaps and disadvantages no-one unless...........................

Maybe you've pitted. Bugger, they'd have to close the pit lane I suppose. Why is it never straightforward?
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
f it's just a normal yellow flag in a sub-sector then just the cars entering that zone would be slowed, the cars are supposed to be doing that now
Which is precisely why they do not slow down at present and so it has to be taken out of their control.

At first I can imagine some drivers thinking there is something wrong with their car and getting onto the radio screaming "I've lost power, i've lost power." And Smedley replying calm down Felipe baby you've just entered a yellow zone that's all.:snigger:
 
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Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
The first thing they should do is scrap the unlapping of lapped cars. They are unfairly being given a lap back at the same time as extending the SC period significantly. The answer is simple; make them drop to the back of the crocodile and then everyone can go racing much quicker.

I quite like the idea of doing away with the safety car if the 'virtual safety car' system works, except that there will no doubt be occasions when the cars do need to close up into a crocodile in order to leave a traffic-free period for the marshals to clear crashed vehicles / debris.
 

F1Yorkshire

Avatar for sale to the highest bidder
Contributor
An automatic slow down system could be possible but would be better to have the limit driver controlled, they could be given 5 seconds to slow down and activate the limit or face penalties.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I'd go for something along the lines of the driver controlled speed limiter. I would establish a safety speed limit for every circuit. I would then divide the circuit into sectors that would enable the driver to slow down from the maximum speed in that sector to the safety speed limit before leaving the next sector. In the event of any incident causing yellow flags to be used, the driver would have to 2 safety sectors to slow down to the safety speed before driving into the hazard zone. The safety and hazard zones would only be lifted when race control can see all three clear of cars. They are tracked so this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
 

F1Yorkshire

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Contributor
The circuits are already divided into a lot more than the traditional 3 timing sectors we see during qualifying and the race. No extra hardware would be required, just a little bit of software coding and driver training which won't be hard to implement.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Yeah, understand that mate. I'm thinking though, that the sector divisions would be of almost equal size however, this would be no use if you are trying to get a car to slow down to a set speed. Halfway down a long straight the slowing distance would be longer than half way through a 2nd gear corner for example. But one of the things I agree with you about is that it would be a simple bit of software coding to achieve the fix which I think would be why it would appeal as a quick win.
 

Jen

Here be dragons.
Contributor
What would be the point of marshalls then?

Bugger the flags, rely on the team to get the instruction right and have a few burly chaps to shift the stricken cars.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
So the safety car slows the grid down for one lap then returns them to the start finish line ready to make a standing restart. As would be the case for a current red flag, all cars return to the grid.

My issue with this is that with a standing start is that there is a risk that the leader doesn't get away well and suddenly he's overtaken. At least with a rolling start there is less to muff up. The whole point of a safety car is obviously to minimise the risk to all drivers, marshals and spectators of course, that goes without saying, but at the same time, it's hard to watch a 30 second lead wiped out through not fault of the lead driver and by adding a standing start that adds another level of punishment.

Why not, return all cars to the grid behind the safety car and then restart them for one lap under the safety car before letting them go on and race?
 

F1Yorkshire

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Contributor
You have the problem of the tyres and brakes cooling down plus engines overheating if they are stationary for too long. What would happen in the event of a crash on the start finish straight such as Perez in Hungary, where would the cars reform.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
There isn't a standing start after a red flag.

At the British Grand Prix, the cars returned to the grid under red flag thus completing lap 1, then the Safety Car lead them around for Lap 2, then it was a rolling start. That is my idea.
 
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