“The Black Art of Blue Flagging”
(quote from Ian Walker c.1995)
|Q 15.1(b) Stationary: Another Competitor Is Following Close Behind.Q 15.1(c) Waved: Another Competitor Is Trying to Overtake.
15.3. Blue flag – Waved. Another competitor is following you closely and may be about to attempt a passing manoeuvre.
Doesn’t tell us a lot does it!
Blue flagging is probably the most difficult and taxing part of our discipline. The concentration memory and understanding levels can be immense. With the blue flag perhaps more often, if not quite as crucially we are attempting to talk to the drivers.
To interpret the Blue Book rules we need to determine:
What we are trying to Communicate to the driver:
Stationary: Please look in your mirror, a faster car is approaching you, please be aware.
Waved: You are being approached by a much faster car, and/or you are about to be lapped, be extremely aware and please try not to cause an accident or spoil the leader’s race.
Guidelines for usage
There is quite a difference between practice and racing. I tend not to use a waved blue in practice, unless I feel it is necessary, preferring instead to save the waved for when it may be needed more, in the race. However there is also the view that practice is as much for the marshals as the drivers and it will instil confidence in the drivers if they see blues being used well in practice, especially on their “hot lap”.
Race reading is essential for good blue flagging, this is the part that requires the concentration. A brief guide is to memorize the first three, and the last three…then work inwards.
Another tip is to pick a car say..two thirds the way down the grid that is very distinctive (difficult in some one make races!) and use it as a marker car, it can easily be identified when the race is progressing, or after you have been distracted by an incident.
The purpose of this is that when you see your marker car you know that the leaders are imminent and it puts things back into perspective. Unless it falls off on lap five! You would have to be telepathic to get every blue right, you will make mistakes, just learn from them.
Try not to turn and check if it worked you will miss the next three blues!
Above All Try To Imagine What The Driver is Thinking
The following also appears in the Blue Book and is worthy of note!
14.4. A car alone on the track may use the full width of the track. however, as soon as it is caught by a car which is about to lap it the driver must allow the faster driver past at the first possible opportunity. If the driver who has been caught does not seem to make full use of the rear-view mirrors, flag marshals will display waved blue flags to indicate that the faster driver wants to overtake. Any driver who appears to ignore the blue flags will be reported to the Clerk of Course.