Following on from the qualifying controversy last weekend in Hungary, the FIA have announced from this weekend onwards, a double yellow situation will lead to an automatic red flag for the session.
During last Saturday’s final qualifying session, a spin from Fernando Alonso caused all manner of issue, with Hamilton backing out of his flying lap as he followed the Spaniard around the track. However further back, Nico Rosberg was able to continue to gain time despite the double yellow flags being waved.
The fallout from Rosberg’s pole lap has rumbled on all week, with Hamilton questioning whether he truly backed off, and Rosberg pointing to a 20km/h drop in speed. As some drivers abandoned the flying lap, and others didn’t, race director Charlie Whiting has stepped in to end any future discussion over lap validity. “The procedure now will be to simply red flag it whenever there is a double-waved yellow flag. There will be no discussion.”
However concern must now be given to whether sessions will be overly affected by an increase in red flags. Although the changeable weather in Hungary last weekend caused an extreme of track incidents, it’s hard not to deny the fact that the 4 red flags in Q1 had a major impact on the session. With each flag meaning a flying lap could be voided, the impact is that a set of tyres could have their premium lap struck off. Under a double yellow the driver can slow down and go again next lap, however the red flag means returning to the pits, before losing another 90s with an extra installation lap when the session restarts. Last week Q1 lost approximately 3 laps worth of time spent on extra installation laps, with the session finally abandoned after the 4th red flag despite 1m 20 still left on the clock, with it being impossible for anyone to start a timed lap. The frustration was clear in the voice of Jolyon Palmer, who missed out on Q2 due to incomplete laps on the drying circuit, despite his apparent speed. With Palmer just missing out on the points in the race, the loss of extra qualifying places could prove financially costly come the end of the season.