FIA re-assessed after Yuki Tsunoda black and orange flag ‘overreaction’

Sam Cooper
Yuki Tsunoda putting in his ear plugs in the garage. France July 2022

Yuki Tsunoda putting in his ear plugs in the AlphaTauri garage. France July 2022

The FIA will reduce the use of black and orange flags after the sporting body’s technical chief admitted there had been an “overreaction” following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Yuki Tsunoda was shown the flag, often dubbed the ‘meatball’ flag, after only one half of his rear wing opened in the DRS zone in Baku.

The FIA deemed this to be unsafe so ordered Tsunoda into the AlphaTauri pits where the team used tape to tie down the wing.

Tsunoda was allowed to continue racing but the FIA’s Nikolas Tombazis admitted the situation was “ridiculous.”

“We had a situation in Baku where objectively a car was let to run with damage that really a car should not be running with,” he said, as per Motorsport.com.

“That was one of [the] AlphaTauris with rear wing damage that was taped up or something like that, that was ridiculous. Clearly there, we got it wrong.

“I think then that created a bit of an overreaction where we started deeming cars unsafe even when they were a bit on the limit, let’s say. So we went a bit too far in one direction.”

Tsunoda was not the only driver to be waved the black and orange flag, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen being the most popular target following damage to the car’s front wing end plate.

The use of the flag was brought into sharp focus following the United States Grand Prix after Fernando Alonso was allowed to continue driving despite having a loose wing mirror that eventually fell off.

Haas protested the lack of a flag and Alpine were initially penalised, only for the French team to be cleared after they counter-protested by stating that Haas’ complaint was past the allocated time period for such matters.

Tombazis said the FIA realised they had overreacted after Tsunoda’s incident and decided to ease the rules from the Mexico City Grand Prix, allowing teams to make their own judgement.

“We revised our criteria on the black and orange flag from Mexico onwards, we already saw one or two cars after that that were not shown the black and orange flag,” the 54-year-old said.

“Our assessment was, having analysed the situation, that we overreacted a bit.

“[Allowing the teams to judge themselves] removes any need for intervention on our side, because teams are by and large quite responsible on that.

“But we would not show a black and orange flag in a situation like a wobbly front end plate, for example. Now if front wing damage from contact is such that we see that the various flap elements are actually wobbling in relation to each other, then that we would consider to be dangerous.

“But by and large, the teams have the flap adjustment mechanism sort of about 100mm or so for the inboard of the endplate, and usually when they do come into contact, what breaks on the outside still leaves the rest of the wing when it impacts.”

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