Romain Grosjean committed “one of the worst cases of ignoring blue flags I’ve seen” in the Singapore Grand Prix according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
The Haas driver was given a five-second time penalty and two penalty points on his licence for failing to let Lewis Hamilton by while trying to overtake Sergey Sirotkin. Hamilton lost several seconds which allowed Max Verstappen to catch him.
“Romain just completely forgot the golden rule of blue flags and that’s if you’re in a battle you’ve got to forget your own battle and move over,” said Whiting. “I’ve drilled that into them many times.
“I think he completely forgot about it. He was so intent on his battle with Sirotkin that he just didn’t… the light panels were flashing with his race number on them, Lewis was much faster, it was probably one of the worst cases of ignoring blue flags that I’ve seen for a long time.”
However Whiting said Nico Hulkenberg was within his right to stay in front of Valtteri Bottas when he was about to be lapped by the Mercedes driver.
“Valtteri didn’t get close enough to deserve a blue flag so there was no issue there with Nico not respecting the blue flag,” he said. Blue flags are only shown to drivers when they are less than 1.2 seconds ahead of a car which is trying to lap them.
Whiting said he does not think the time limit should be increased. “This time last year it was one second. We had a few discussions and opened it up to 1.2,” he explaied.
“I don’t think we should go any more than that because then you get into a situation where a driver has to back off and lose a lot more time than he really should to let the other car through. He’s got to do it at his earliest opportunity, which is what we say, and [if] he’s 1.4, 1.6 seconds behind, he’s got to back off and lose a lot of time. And we don’t want that to happen because it’s not fair.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect a driver van get within 1.2 seconds. Everyone else did today except Valtteri. I don’t know why that was, probably his car wasn’t exactly as he wanted it. I spoke to him earlier and he said he just couldn’t make any headway. Well that’s not our problem, without wishing to sound unkind, everyone else was abiding by that and had to work to that and we couldn’t make an exception for him.”
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