Riders have given a mixed response at being told by Race Direction it will potentially delete fast lap times completed if they’ve passed through a yellow flag zone following Jack Miller and Alex Rins’ near-miss during qualifying for the Spanish MotoGP.

Riders in the Andalucia MotoGP pre-event press conference revealed they have been told personal best lap times achieved in qualifying or practice would be annulled if achieved in spite of yellow flags being shown to them.

The discussions have been raised after Suzuki’s Rins fell at Turn 11 during qualifying in Jerez just moments after Miller had also come down. Despite the yellow flags for Miller and his stricken Ducati, Rins committed his own unrelated mistake into the corner to send him across the gravel at speed, the Spaniard admitting he corrected his direction and ultimately crashed so as to avoid a more serious accident.

Though the regulations state lap times can be deleted if riders improve their times while passing through a yellow flag zone, stewards say they will be stricter with enforcing it to encourage riders to ease off when approaching a potential hazard.

As an example, Fabio Quartararo completed his pole-winning lap while passing through yellow flags in the final section. Though he says he did ease off through Turn 11, a firmer implementation of the rules would now potentially see him lose that lap.

Dorna has since clarified the ruling, confirming it applies to both single and double waved yellow flags:

"For a number of years, any improvement in sector time achieved under a double Yellow Flag has led to the cancellation of a rider's laptime as a matter of course. From now on, that will now be extended to include single Yellow Flags. A rider can no longer improve their laptime under a Yellow Flag of any kind, and as soon as a rider enters a sector with a Yellow Flag, their laptime will be cancelled. This applies to all Free Practice and Qualifying sessions."

It’s a reaction that hasn’t won approval from Miller, saying it could cause problems in such a short Q2 session with limited tyre availability.

“I’m copping a lot of blame around here – I caused a lot of crashes and problems,” he mused. “I went in and then heard (makes scraping noises) in the gravel next to me and I was ducking for cover.

“We’ll see about this new rule, I don’t 100% agree with it. I think there should be some common sense involved in these sort of things, to immediately scrap laps we’re on especially with the limited tyre we have, I don’t think it is the right idea especially if you can pass a crash in a safe manner while on a hot lap.

“For example at Turn 2 there were a lot of crashes in qualifying. It is something we will discuss further in the Safety Commission… but sorry I had to cause this.”

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso is also wary, saying yellow flags can be brought out for simple off-track excursions that don’t have a bearing on a rider coming through on track. However, he agrees with the safety aspect of the ruling.

“It’s difficult as always, there is always some complaint because it is bad to lose a lap when the yellow flag is not that dangerous. They decide that for the safety reason and for sure to improve the safety because everybody has to slow down.

“If the rider or the bike is in the middle and is dangerous, it is better to show the riders on track to slow down. If somebody just goes out of the track and is not in the middle, I think it is better to keep pushing. I know it is difficult for race direction to manage that but it is like this and we have to follow the rules.”

Rins, meanwhile, speculated that the ruling could be taken advantage of by a rider or team in a good position proceeding to cause a hazard that prevents anyone else from improving.

“I think the rule was there before, I don’t know why they didn’t penalise before but now they say that if someone crashes during qualifying (and free practice) they will cancel the lap.

“You need to take care because some riders can do the lap and stop the bike maybe, then no more laps for the others. I know it is a difficult situation for them because it is difficult to control if you cut the throttle on a yellow flag, but let’s see.”

Maverick Vinales says the move could prompt an entirely new strategic direction for teams to avoid the traditional last gasp fast lap if there is a risk the greater track activity – and potential crashes – would count against them. The Spaniard points out that Quartararo’s best lap time in FP3 was achieved well before the chequered flag.

“Maybe you need to have another strategy, especially in FP3 and FP1 when we all wait until the last moment to make the lap. Last race in FP3, Fabio did the lap 20mins before finishing practice, so we need to follow a good strategy in case we have many yellow flags in the last lap.”

 

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