Blue (For Drivers)
The blue flag is an advisory flag, as opposed to an instructional flag as is the case with the red or yellow. For flag marshals this is the most difficult of all the flags and the one that needs some years of experience before it can be (almost) mastered. Please bear this in mind if you encounter some apparent inconsistency or what appear to be errors. The other point to consider is that over recent years the manning levels of circuits has diminished and sometimes blue flags may not be used (in the interests of safety the manning of the yellow takes precedence).
Unfortunately the Blue Book does not quite capture the essence of the message we are trying to convey!
To quote from the MSA Blue Book:
Stationary: Another Competitor Is Following Close Behind
Unless you are Schumacher they do tend to on occasion!
When we show you a stationary blue flag this is a polite invitation for you to look in your mirrors, as you need to be aware that a faster car is approaching from behind. If we show it to the car in front (don’t get too excited) it means that you are faster than he is!
The only action that you need to take is to be aware and keep an eye on the pursuing car to make sure that an incident is not caused by unintentional blocking.
Again the Blue book is hardly inspirational with a waved blue flag.
To quote the MSA Blue Book:
Waved: Another Competitor Is Trying to Overtake
Well, they are allowed to! We are racing after all!
When we show a waved blue flag we are saying: Be aware, a much faster car is approaching you from behind (preferable to the side!), or you are about to be lapped.
What to do about this information is quite important in order to avoid causing an incident, very embarrassing to take out the race leader whilst being lapped! Standard, and the preferred procedure is to stick to your line. It is the responsibility of the overtaking car to find their own way past. Try not to move over to help him through as this action may appear unpredictable to the faster car and end in tears. Worse, there may be more than one car, or even a group trying to get past and in avoiding one you cause a collision by turning straight in to another, perhaps unsighted car! Remember also that it is possible to be overtaken on both sides simultaneously! Another situation to be aware of is when one post shows you a blue and you immediately receive one from the next, be on the lookout for the second faster car!
If you consider yourself to be considerably slower than the approaching car, and you have sufficient warning then you can move off line to let them through, but it is important to give them a clear hand/arm signal pointing them to the side they are to pass.
If you are in a spot of bother mechanically and are tootling around off the line, you might receive a blue flag as a matter of courtesy, just to make sure that you are aware of the faster car. Again, a clear signal to the faster driver is a good idea.
On occasion you might receive what you consider to be an illogical blue flag, perhaps you overtook another car before the previous corner and he is trying to regain his place and you get a blue. OK, but remember that the flag marshal can only see what is in his pitch and what appears to him/her to be happening.
Another occurrence is the result of a closely guarded trade secret. You receive a frantically waved blue flag, look in your mirror and see a small speck in the distance! You have been the victim of a “boredom blue”! Some poor flag wallah has been standing all day with nothing to do, possibly for some fairly dull racing and any two cars in the same vicinity are fair game for a blue! forgive them, we are only human after all.
An observation for saloon & sports car drivers. Headlights. Be aware that when you have your headlights on, especially in dim light, glare renders the flag marshal unable to identify your car or its speed relative to others. This is true if the marshal is at anything less than 45 degrees to the car. The result is that they are unable to advise other cars as to whether you are closing on them. The practice of using headlights whilst lapping is a good thing if the leading bunch do it, but when everyone turns them on then we are unable to assist!
Finally another extract from the blue book which is well worth remembering all of these circumstances will result in a blue flag!
74. During a race or practice, if a car is approached from behind by a second car which is either temporarily or constantly faster, the first Driver shall immediately give the other vehicle the right of way.
76. Any Driver appearing not to make adequate use of his rear view mirror, or driving even unintentionally in a manner which appears consistently to hinder or discourage another Driver seeking to pass, may be halted by display of the Black flag or otherwise penalised.