A “crackdown” on blue flag rules ultimately led to the more stringent penalties handed out to Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat at Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Perez was handed a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags instructing him to allow race leader Lewis Hamilton to lap him, with the Mercedes driver coming up behind him heading into the tight and twisty final sector of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Instead of allowing Hamilton through immediately, Perez opted to let Hamilton lap him at the start of the following lap on the main straight. The FIA stewards subsequently handed the Mexican a five-second time penalty during the race which meant Perez slipped behind Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll to fifth in the final classification.

AlphaTauri’s Kvyat also received a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

After the 66-lap race, Perez labelled his penalty “unfair” as he felt he had allowed Hamilton through at the best moment, but F1 race director Michael Masi said the the stewards took a dim view of both drivers “clearly excessive” breaches of the rules.

Masi revealed the subject of harsher enforcement of blue flag penalties had been discussed during the Styrian Grand Prix weekend in Austria in July.

“Both Sergio and Dany Kvyat got a penalty for failing to obey the blue flags,” Masi explained. “My view with both of those is they were effectively took way too long.

“It was something we discussed at the driver meeting following the first Austria meeting, so the Styrian GP. It was discussed that there would be much more of a crackdown on blue flags this year and this is the first place we’ve seen two cars in particular [breach the rules].

“I think the regulations says something along the lines of you should let the other car pass at the first available opportunity and there’s a level of discretion within it to allow reasonable elements with the other cars.

"But those two were both clearly excessive, and were referred to the stewards. For me they imposed the penalty of five-second time penalty for not doing so.

“It seemed to be that after that from the blue flag report I got, it was acknowledged up and down the pit lane and I got a number of managers ring to say they were really glad to see people penalised for not obeying blue flags.”

 

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