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FIA reveal the next big change that is on their agenda for Formula One

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In the evolution of Formula One, both its owners Liberty Media, and the sport's governing body the FIA are striving to improve the sport both for drivers and as a spectacle for fans alike.

It's a noble challenge as the FIA have demonstrated, over the years, that amending the rule book often leaves one party frustrated.

However, F1 race director Charlie Whiting has suggested that the FIA is reviewing the blue flag system and considering removing blue flags from the sport altogether.

The FIA have said that while the removal of blue flags is up for discussion, it freely admits getting the rule changed would be “quite something” as it would be a “hugely unpopular” decision among teams and drivers.

For as long as the sport has been in its current guise, blue flags have been shown to slower drivers, warning them that they are about to be lapped by a faster car and that they must yield.

The modern system uses a combination of blue flags waved by trackside marshals, automatic light panels, and in-cockpit blue lights to warn the driver to move off the racing line.

Leading teams have long called for improved use of the blue flag, better training for marshals, and tougher penalties for slower drivers failing to yield.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen has demanded sanctions for drivers who have failed to let lapping drivers through.

Under the International Sporting Code, drivers have to allow the faster driver past at the first available opportunity after the FIA blue lights within the soon to be lapped cars cockpit are illuminated.

AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1

Drivers receive a 3.0 second "pre-warning" which the FIA says should be used by the team of the slower car to warn their driver he is soon going to be lapped and that allowing the faster car through should be considered a priority.

In 2016, the FIA changed the time gap which automatically triggers the blue flag system - reducing it from 1.5s to 1.0s. Drivers who fail to yield within 10 marshalling sectors, which represents the gap between the trackside light panels, can incur a penalty.

While leading teams are demanding tougher sanctions for drivers who fail to cede track position, back markers are less happy about the use of blue flags, as teams and drivers claim that yielding to a lapping car damages their races, especially when they are involved in a battle for track position at the time. 

While the FIA has previously been reluctant to remove blue flags from F1, Whiting suggested this week that a review of the system is on the agenda. 

F1 Grand Prix of Mexico - Previews

“There’s been talk about that," stated Whiting.

“It’s been proposed a few times. [It would be] hugely unpopular with teams and drivers, of course."

He added: “It’s something that is on the agenda, so to speak. It’s not been rejected completely but it’s something that we would have to look carefully at to make sure that it wasn’t overly exploited.

"But I think the principle, in many forms of racing, which they don’t have such a luxury, that it’s something we are going to discuss.”

However, getting the changes accepted by all parties will not be easy, less than 50-50.

When questioned on the matter he said: “Less than 50 per cent I would say. But that’s just a figure. But I mean it’s not popular, as I said, I think it would be quite something to get that through. But we need to think through it carefully.”

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Topics:
Sebastian Vettel
Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo
Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari
Mercedes
Red Bull
Formula 1

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