Formula 1 drivers will no longer have the ability to use their Drag Reduction Systems under yellow flag conditions, after the FIA acted to clear up the controversy around Michael Schumacher's final lap in Valencia.
Schumacher had to see the stewards after finishing on the podium in the European Grand Prix, when Red Bull Racing claimed he had used DRS after yellow flags had been shown. The stewards decided not to take action, however, because they judged that Schumacher had slowed down for the warning signals, even if he had used DRS for a short period of time before turning it off.
With that situation prompting discussion among drivers – especially after Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were punished for using DRS under yellow flags at the Spanish Grand Prix – FIA race director Charlie Whiting agreed to look into the matter over the Silverstone weekend. It is understood that Whiting informed the drivers before the race about how behavior under yellow flags would be treated by stewards going forward.
He informed them that from now on, drivers would primarily have to demonstrate that they slowed down sufficiently, with the use of KERS or DRS of secondary importance. However, to limit the possibility of any confusion about the use of DRS in such a situation, the FIA said from now on it would disable the use of the overtaking aid whenever there was a yellow warning flag displayed in the DRS zone at each race.
The new ban on the use DRS during yellow flag periods was implemented for the first time at the British Grand Prix in the wake of the collision between Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez. Before that ruling was laid down, Schumacher had said that he was always under the impression that as long as drivers slowed down for yellow flags, then there should not be a problem.
"There are two basics to this one [yellow flags and DRS] and people seem to mix them up," he said. "There is no rule that says if you use DRS in a yellow zone that you automatically will be penalized. Depending on when it happens, you can prove that where the accident is you go slow and you significantly reduce your speed. Whether you use DRS or don't use DRS, that is another story. But, obviously, if you use DRS from point A to point B, and you use 100% DRS, then it is likely that you have not slowed down and therefore you get a penalty."