Charles Leclerc's Italian GP 'yellow card' explained by F1 race director
Exclusive SkyPad analysis with F1's race director after the Italian GP
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 09/09/19 9:32am
FIA race director Michael Masi has explained why Charles Leclerc was issued with F1's equivalent of the 'yellow card' and not a penalty in his gripping battle with Lewis Hamilton in the Italian GP.
As Hamilton cranked up the pressure on the Ferrari driver midway through the race, the Mercedes driver attacked into Monza's second chicane but was squeezed wide and went across the run-off area.
Race Control showed Leclerc a black-and-white flag - the warning for 'unsportsmanlike behaviour' - rather than issuing any time penalty, as may have occurred in the past.
Analysing the incident on the SkyPad with Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson after the race, Masi said: "The rules remain with regards to a car's width of room.
"It's quite obvious here that Charles has squeezed Lewis and, consistent with what happened last weekend in Spa with Pierre Gasly, as a result it was the bad sportsmanship flag, or the black-and-white flag, that was displayed to Car 16 for the move and the squeeze in the braking area."
While the black-and-flag has long been in use and available across motorsport, Masi says it will now be issued more often as means of a one-chance warning to drivers.
"For small infringements that are, let's call it, a 'professional foul' but don't go beyond the line, we'll be absolutely using the black-and-white flag more and more," he said.
"It's a sign to everyone that the driver's on notice because you only get one for the race. If you do it again, the drivers have all been advised that any other infraction will be referred to the stewards."
Why the change in approach?
Amid long-standing calls to allow drivers to race more freely in wheel-to-wheel situations, without penalties always being applied, Masi says teams and drivers have helped shaped the revised approach and plans for increased use of the 'yellow card'.
"If there was resultant contact [in the Leclerc and Hamilton incident] we would have looked at it in a bit more detail, but effectively under the 'let them race philosophy' that the teams, the F1 Group, the drivers and the FIA have worked together on throughout the year, and giving the teams the advice at the last event in Spa, we will be using the black and white flag more often - at their request I must say," added Masi.
"And that was a prime incident where everyone continued, black and white flag, motorsport's version of the yellow card."