Formula One is not ditching the company which supplies its on-track electronic marshalling system, despite a string of problems in the opening four races this season.
The system, run by Riedel, controls important functions such as the track-side electronic flags and in-car flag indicators. Each car is equipped with equipment which alerts the driver, via lights on his dashboard, to the current track status – flashing yellow in yellow flag zones, blue when a driver must move over to be lapped etc.
The technology, supplied by EM last year, played a vital part in clearing Sebastian Vettel’s name when speculation arose that he could be disqualified for overtaking under yellow flags at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. While it appeared that the German, who narrowly secured his third consecutive world championship at the same race, had overtaken in a yellow flag zone, the green lights flashing on his dashboard helped clear his name as his move was made in, at least, what he thought was a green flag zone.
This year, big issues have arisen – particularly earlier this month in China when eight drivers were investigated for using DRS in the yellow flag zone caused by Esteban Gutierrez’s crash with Adrian Sutil.
The eight men were finally cleared when it was found that the dodgy system only informed the drivers that they were in a yellow flag zone a full minute after Race Control declared it to be one. Also, the same issue stopped the FIA from blocking the use of DRS in the zone, something they could do last year when EM managed the system.
With similar problems in Bahrain, some suggested EM could be asked to step in. However, the FIA told Autosport this week that they were satisfied with Riedel’s progress in developing the technology and that they would allow time before debating returning to EM.
There is three weeks between the last Grand Prix, in Bahrain, and the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix which should allow Riedel time to get up to scratch, but the FIA has not commented as to how long it will give Riedel to iron out its issues before they begin to consider alternatives.
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