Where 9 of the 10 drivers participating in Q3 followed the rules to a tee, one renegade didn’t. Nico Rosberg has had a squabble with the stewards after being summoned to the offices for an investigation into his lap. The stewards have decided that Nico did lift enough despite setting a purple sector. Lewis Hamilton had speed-dialed the FIA to clarify the rules around sufficient lifting under double-yellow zones on track.
Fernando Alonso’s McLaren led the train of cars set to complete their final fast lap in the closing stages of Q3, but the Spaniard got it wrong going into turn-9 and spun out. The result consequently cost all following cars, including Hamilton who was first on the scene, to lift and end any chance of changing the pecking order.
Nico Rosberg was at the back of the train and set a purple sector despite double-yellows being waved at turn-8. By the time Rosberg was into turn-9, Alonso had got going again and the sector was green.
Hamilton demanded clarity on the rules and said,
“Us drivers need to understand the yellow flag situation, because obviously in the way that it’s written is potentially not the way it’s interpreted, either by the stewards or the drivers.
So more clarification would be good. For me there was no question I had to lift, because Fernando was on the track. Perhaps for Nico, Fernando had cleared, but there were still flags, so it was a different scenario.
When it’s a yellow flag it says you have to be prepared to slow down, or you have to slow down, and lose some time.
If it’s a double yellow – there could be a car on the track, there could be a steward on the track, you don’t know what’s around the corner – you have to be prepared to stop, that’s what it says.
Nico only lost a tenth through the corner, so if that’s what we’re really allowed to do in the future, even though you lift and approach the corner with due care, if that’s allowed on double yellow… Because I thought that was the case on a single yellow, but maybe on a double, I thought you had to pay more caution to it.”
– Lewis Hamilton
The most important line of Hamilton’s plea is “so it was a different scenario”. Because it wasn’t. The flags were still waving, and to set a purple sector in a yellow-flag zone is unbelievable.Although Rosberg clearly lifts into turn-8 and see’s the clear track ahead, the issue is, he lifted as if it were a single-yellow being waved. A double-yellow requires the driver to slow significantly and stewards will now investigate whether this is true.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 23, 2016
This prompted Red Bull and Christian Horner to mention this to the FIA, they too felt impeded. Rosberg was called to the stewards office three and a half hours after Qualifying. (They’re dinosaurs that don’t even email, what do you expect?) and the Mercedes F1 team twitter said this:
Reason: Alleged breach of Appendix H, Article 126.96.36.199 b) of the FIA International Sporting
Code, failure to slow for yellow flags at 15:54.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 23, 2016
Rosberg has since emerged from the stewards office with his pole position in-tact. Hamilton will have to overtake on track if he’s to win tomorrow.