FIA denies F1 yellow card rule will lead to dangerous driving rise

Jonathan Noble
Autosport
FIA denies rule will lead to dangerous driving rise
FIA denies rule will lead to dangerous driving rise

Formula 1's use of the black and white warning flag has not opened the door for an escalation of dangerous driving, insists race director Michael Masi.

Under a new initiative that was implemented at the Belgian Grand Prix, drivers are now warned about unsportsmanlike conduct if they do something that is borderline wrong.

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But the use of what has been termed F1's 'yellow card' system has led to concerns that drivers now feel they can risk some moves because they know they will only get a warning.

So far the flag has been shown twice for dangerous driving - once to Pierre Gasly at Spa, and once to Charles Leclerc in Italy last weekend, when he was deemed to have moved in the braking area while defending against Lewis Hamilton.

But Masi, who was instrumental in introducing the flag system, does not believe drivers will take more risks.

"I don't think they will act more dangerous," said Masi, when asked by Autosport if he thought drivers would now be inclined to push the limits.

"They may be looking at things [overtakes] slightly more, but they are on the border and you can step over that border relatively easily.

"The way it has worked and the two manners it has been introduced in and used so far, for me, I think it is serving its purpose.

"But you have to look at each and every incident on its own merits."

Masi said the new system does not prevent stewards stepping in independently to punish something they think is wrong.

"It is ultimately the stewards' decision if someone gets penalised," he explained.

"The bad sportsmanship flag is me, but if the stewards feel there is more to it they absolutely have the capability of issuing a penalty and that is where it sits.

"I think it [Leclerc's move] was hard, and the black and white was issued for the reason it was there.

"It is quite simple for me and a carbon copy nearly of what Pierre [who moved in the braking area] did last weekend in Spa, so it achieved its purpose."

FIA denies rule will lead to dangerous driving rise
FIA denies rule will lead to dangerous driving rise

Masi added he did not believe there was an inconsistency between the decision to hand Max Verstappen a penalty for moving towards Valtteri Bottas under braking for the first chicane at Monza a year earlier and Leclerc's warning.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was one of those who suggested the use of the flag would tempt drivers to be more aggressive, and believes the younger generation of drivers may be more open to taking risks.

"We've seen in the last years that the young ones that came into Formula 1, they are maybe a little bit more aggressive," he said.

"And these moves can end up in the wall, if one doesn't give up.

"[In Italy] the driver that goes for the drivers' world championship [Hamilton] bailed out of it and saved Charles and saved himself.

"For me it's somehow a recurring thing, until it ends up in a situation that is a bit dire for the one that is aggressive.

"We aren't there yet. The interesting decision [is], what would've been the penalty if this would've ended in Lewis losing a front wing or both cars being in the wall?"

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