Drivers must abandon quick laps if they come across double waved yellow flags during free practice and qualifying following a new directive from the FIA ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Previously, drivers need only be 'prepared to stop' in a double yellow flag zone, but interpretations of this regulation has seen fast lap times stand so long as data shows a driver lifted in that section.
Though the revised directive still states that drivers must still be 'prepared to stop', the regulation has now been clarified to inform that drivers on a 'hot lap' must now abandon it to definitively show they have slowed.
“Any driver passing through a double waved yellow marshalling sector must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop. In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes this means the driver should abandon the lap (this does not necessarily mean he has to pit as the track could well be clear the following lap).
Driver conduct under yellow flags has been a topic of controversy this season, with Nico Hulkenberg making it through Q1 in Austria despite setting his fastest time on a lap that included a yellow flag zone. On that occasion he kept his time because data showed he lifted.
Similarly, Nico Rosberg set his pole-winning lap time for the Hungarian Grand Prix despite approaching a double yellow flag zone. Again, data showed he had lifted but it is known to have been by only a fraction of a second. Nevertheless, he was allowed to keep his pole position after a stewards inquiry, even if it sparked debate amongst drivers over what should be deemed acceptable in future.
With Sergio Perez getting a grid penalty for setting his best Singapore Grand Prix Q2 time whilst coming through two yellow flag zones, the FIA has thus officially moved to clamp down on the perceived loophole.
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