“Scrap Blue Flags and Protect the back of the Grid” – F1 Steward Derek Warwick

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

Derek Warwick is a familiar name in the world of motorsport. I was a foetus when he was at the end of his F1 career, but remember watching his Triple-Eight Racing Vauxhall Vectra storming around the BTCC calendar alongside Scottish straight-talker and mogul of speed John Cleland.

Warwick BTCC

Warwick is now the president of the BRDC and also a race steward for Formula One. He has called for some drastic changes in 2017, and is surely in an ideal position to share his ideas with other members who officiate the F1 races. He promisingly and recently said,

“Regulations are made for the front end of the grid.

The people that talk in driver briefings to [FIA F1 race director] Charlie [Whiting], like [Sebastian] Vetteland [Mark] Webber when he was there, [Fernando] Alonso, [Jenson] Button, all the experienced guys that want the best for them to make their race perfect.

It is them that have pushed for blue flags, drivers being penalised. We need to come back and help the back end of the grid, I think. Take away blue flags, take away all these penalties.

Let’s get back to harder racing and let people work out how to overtake when coming to lap a slow car.

These guys will enjoy F1 more if all of a sudden, the great drivers like Lewis Hamilton, who will be unbelievable in traffic without the blue flags, will be even more unbelievable.”

– Derek Warwick

Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain drives as a marshall shows a blue overtaking flag during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 20, 2014.      AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN        (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain drives as a marshall shows a blue overtaking flag during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)

What an improvement it would be if the leading F1 drivers would have to be big boys and lap back-markers without assistance. This blue flag waving has been a grey area of the sport for a long time, and suggests that the alleged best racing drivers in the world need help in overtaking much slower cars. It has churned out some unlikely rivalries over the years such as Sebastian Vettel vs Narain Kartikeyan, Sebastian Vettel vs Manor Racing and Sebastian Vettel vs pretty much anything on-track barring seagulls.

Warwick also added,

“I really look forward to it. You’re not paid, but I enjoy it and I’m lucky enough that I can afford to give something back.

It’s interesting the amount of data we have in the stewards’ room – brake pressure, steering angle, speed, corner exit. We have everything, and that’s instant.

We have an engineer in the room that records everything so we can go back and look at an incident. We’ve got 60 circuit cameras, on-boards, off-boards so we can analyse each incident.”

– Derek Warwick

The concept of having race stewards is a sound one and they have access to a ridiculous amount of data. Their presence is akin to having video replays in Rugby and the theory is that their officiating should accurately penalise. In 2016, their little control room took over a bit too much though, and they were accused of over-policing and disenfranchising drivers from being offensive. Hopefully this will change in 2017.