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Leclerc wants to “fix” blue flags

The fallout from traffic incidents in the Singapore Grand Prix has continued in Sochi.

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Alfa Romeo Sauber driver Charles Leclerc (Image courtesy of Sauber F1 Team).

Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Charles Leclerc has spoken out against the use of blue flags in last fortnight’s Singapore Grand Prix, saying “we just need to fix this issue for next year.”

Blue flags were a talking point after the race, as the race leaders had trouble lapping slower competitors on the tight and twisty street circuit.

“I think if it’s done well, it’s the right thing to have in Formula One but then in Singapore, it was a bit of a mess,” Leclerc said during the Thursday press conference for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

In Singapore, Max Verstappen took 1.3 seconds out of Lewis Hamilton’s race lead in a single sector as the latter caught backmarker traffic.

“If you’re lucky you catch the cars at the right point,” Hamilton said after winning in Singapore, “today I always caught them at an unfortunate point.”

Alfa Romeo Sauber driver Charles Leclerc (pictured on-track in Singapore) wants to address Formula 1’s blue flag rules (Image courtesy of Sauber F1 Team).

“If it’s done properly I think it should stay but we just need to fix this issue for next year in Singapore,” Leclerc said.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was handed a 5-second time penalty for holding Hamilton up in Singapore. He apologized post-race, saying “it was not my intention.”

FIA’s race director Charlie Whiting told Autosport that Grosjean’s incident was “one of the worst cases” of ignoring blue flags. 

On Thursday in Sochi, Grosjean’s Team Principal Guenther Steiner said the Verstappen and Hamilton situation would’ve produced better racing if blue flags had not been in play.

“We would have had more action by scrapping the rule which only advantages the guy who is first anyway,” Steiner said to Autosport.

Blue flags also drew criticism in Singapore because faster cars, such as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, were unable to get within the 1.2-second threshold laid out in the rules. 

Valtteri Bottas (pictured) was hampered by the 1.2-second blue flag threshold in Singapore, as the track’s nature made it difficult for him to catch the car ahead, despite being quicker (Image courtesy of Daimler AG). 

“Sometimes this new 1.2s rule is good and sometimes it’s a bit tricky to get close enough to trigger the blue flags,” Bottas said during Thursday’s press conference. 

“Sometimes you get more luck with it, sometimes more unlucky and that’s how it goes,” Bottas said. 

Leclerc’s Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson said the rules around blue flags are ” just part of the sport” and described the current system as the “best solution”.

“It’s never going to be perfect,” Bottas and Ericsson both admitted.

Steven Walton is an 18-year-old Journalism Student at the Ara Institute of Canterbury. He previously attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he excelled at History and Classical Studies. Steven is the Editor-in-Chief at Green Flag F1 and spends most of his days living, breathing, and immersing in the Formula 1 world.

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