‘I haven’t forgotten’: McLaren boss sends FIA demand as teams disagree

Felipe Massa suffered life-threatening injuries at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, after being hit in the visor by a fallen spring off another car.

It appears that there are drastically differing opinions among the teams in Formula 1, with a new approach in regard to awarding a black and orange flag having been taken by the FIA following requests by some sides.

The whole situation arose following the conclusion of the United States Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, where Haas were furious that Fernando Alonso and Sergio Pérez weren’t shown a black and orange flag.

The Americans were furious at the actions of the governing body, who all year have shown a driver a black and orange flag when any small amount of damage was visible.

Kevin Magnussen has been shown this flag multiple times this year, representing the reason why Haas were furious.

READ: Sebastian Vettel delivers good news to fans as he comments on F1 return

Despite Alonso’s car having gone into the air before slapping back onto the circuit, no black and orange flag was shown to the Spaniard following his collision with Lance Stroll, despite onboard footage showing that his wing mirror was broken.

Alonso’s mirror flew off his car later in the race, which resulted in the driver being awarded a 30-second penalty after the race, following a protest by Haas.

However, the penalty was later reverted, after Alpine argued that Haas’ complaint was made after the legal window, something that was discovered to be true.

Pérez, on the other hand, wasn’t even discussed by the FIA, despite Haas having also protested against the Mexican.

Article continues below

The 32-year-old’s front endplate could be seen flapping about, before also flying off his car.

Despite this, no flag was shown to the Mexican, meaning he wasn’t forced to pit for the damage to be repaired.

Alpine’s Alan Permane revealed that the teams had made the FIA take a U-turn on their approach to award a driver a black and orange flag if any damage was visible, with “small damages like a mirror, like front-wing endplate, if it’s non-structural like a brake duct, something like that, will not be considered to be a black and orange flag offence”.

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin supported this action, for the black and orange flag to not be used for light damage, saying that “we’ve survived a lot of years where they were used correctly and infrequently, and we do need to just let the drivers get on with driving and not be too afraid of getting near another car”.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is one of the few who believes a driver should be shown the black and orange flag for any damage, with the Woking-based team’s boss having not “forgotten” the terrible incident that happened to Felipe Massa.

At the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix during Free Practice, Massa was hit by a fallen spring off Rubens Barrichello’s car, who was directly ahead of him.

The spring directly hit Massa in the visor after bouncing off the circuit, which resulted in the Brazilian being knocked out, which caused him to crash at high speed into the barrier on the exit of the incredibly quick Turn Four.

Massa suffered from concussion, eye damage, and a fractured skull, which ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

Seidl never wants to see a similar incident happen ever again, resulting in him wanting the FIA to maintain their strict approach to the black and orange flag.

“My view is that in general, when you have parts on the car which are at risk to fly off the cars, you get called in,” Seidl said.

“Because I haven’t forgotten what happened to Felipe Massa in Hungary.

“And we need to be aware something can happen anytime [when] such a part is falling off of a car. So I think that’s our responsibility in that case, to call the car in.

READ: Lewis Hamilton plays Safety Car prank on George Russell

“I guess it’s just important now moving forward, without any emotions, have a good discussion between the teams and FIA and just put in place clear guidelines, what we all want in the interest of safety.

“And take it away from any current emotions around opportunistic views of where everyone is in the championship or what happened in the past.

“But again, safety always needs to come first. Don’t forget what happened to Felipe Massa. This can happen anytime if a part like this is falling off and I just think it would be the wrong thing to actually be aware that something is loose and could fall off and just accept it and keep going.”