Blue flag rules cause controversy in Mid-Ohio after Pedersen holds up several drivers

Spread the love

Benjamin Pedersen’s attempt not to get lapped was cause for debate within the paddock.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black

At last weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series Mid-Ohio Grand Prix, the blue flag rules caused debate in the paddock, as race leader Alex Palou and other front-runners got disturbed by backmarker Benjamin Pedersen.Palou got to the back of the Danish driver at the mid-point of the race. Pedersen was shown the blue flag, but in IndyCar, blue flag rules are different from European motorsports. Not necessarily the backmarker needs to give the track position and give up a lap. So, the No. 55 was in the right to not give up his place.The eventual race winner only overtook the AJ Foyt on lap 48, losing several seconds to runner-up Colton Herta. It was an aggressive defence by the Dane on the run to turn 4 before Palou got the switchback.Pedersen also defended against other drivers: Dixon, Power and McLaughlin are only some examples.“Yeah, it’s INDYCAR,” said Alex Palou. “I know the rules, but at the same time it’s very frustrating when you are leading and you try to open the gap, and they don’t let you pass, but they are using the overtake, like 20, 30 seconds a lap, to try to stay up front.

“On top of that once you are side-by-side that they are so aggressive defending. Obviously it’s really frustrating when you are leading.

“I knew I had to get past also because you are using more overtake, you are using more fuel, you are using more tires, and you’re not able to do the race you want just because of a backmarker car that wants to stay on the lead lap.

“The issue is that once you pass them, they let everybody pass because they already lost the lap; right?

“So, yeah, it’s frustrating. I know it’s the rules. I would like it to change. It’s not going to change. So, yeah, whatever. I’m more relaxed now.”Podium sitters Scott Dixon and Will Power had thoughts and suggestions:“I know Alex got held up pretty heavily there by the 55,” said Dixon. “I think we closed about a 10-second gap with him there in that situation.

“Yeah, trust me, it’s not easy, man. You’re flat out trying to get as much as you can every lap, and it’s hard work, hard work.”Will Power said: “I think that the blue flag rule, it’s crazy. You use push-to-pass up and have to race somebody that’s going to be a lap down like you’re racing for position.

“The series is so tight and competitive, and everyone is so good now that I think we could have a blue flag rule. It’s not like we have yellows constantly, and you’re going to get your lap back.

“Maybe they do it in the second half of the race, but it’s ridiculous when a leader gives up 10 seconds. I mean, I think you were five seconds down the road, closed it right up. Probably would have overtaken you if I didn’t get held up on going a couple of laps longer.”

“I think that’s actually the problem is it takes a lot of people to police that because if there’s a blue flag rule and the first guy passes and then you’ve got to have a command blue for everyone, but I think if everyone just understood, if you get the blue flag, you have to let the driver go within the lap.

“That I think is their issue is the amount of people in race control that would have to police that. It becomes — I think that’s the thing. It becomes a bit difficult, but we’re at the stage where this competition is so tough maybe we have to add some people to do that.”

Scott McLaughlin was caught stepping up and talking directly to Pedersen after the race, to which the driver ironically said on social media: “I was actually telling him NASCAR was starting at 6:15 ET.”

Arrow McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist replied: “Still beyond me how much power-lapped cars have to ruin people’s races.”

McLaughlin did say to NBC post-race on a serious note: “I just said that he’s not going to make any friends if he holds people up. He’s not in our race, I get he’s in a race of his own. It’s give or take in this series, If I’m a lap down and [he] is behind me, who knows what I’m going to do.”

6th place finisher David Malukas was also very punchy: “He was just blocking, but all you’re doing is making enemies and he’s certainly made one of me. He was just trying to ruin everyone’s races for no reason, I just don’t think that’s how you should drive.”