Monaco Grand Prix – Haas’ team boss Guenther Steiner said that his team had to request their drivers be shown the black flag as they sailed on, blissfully unaware, of the team’s software problems.
There was a bizarre moment at the start of the FP1 session on Thursday morning, as race control showed the black flags to both Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. This is a disqualification flag, usually for driving standards, and is very rarely shown in Formula 1. The two drivers returned to the pits, where it was later explained that the team had requested the drivers be shown the black flags as a result of communication problems.
Speaking to the media after practice, Steiner explained that the team suffered a huge software blackout at the start of FP1 that left their cars on track with absolutely no software communication between the car and the pitlane. Unable to get their drivers on the radio, both Magnussen and Grosjean also failed to spot the team’s attempts to get their attention from the pitwall using waving arms and pitboards!
“We had issues with our IT equipment, we had no data, no radio, absolutely nothing.” explained Steiner. “So we had no way of contacting the drivers and we couldn’t see what the car was doing. So they needed to come in straight away and quick, we put the pit boards out but they didn’t see it! So we came up with the idea to contact race control and ask them to show the drivers the black flag so they’d come in. We had to be a little bit creative there to get the drivers focused and get them in.”
Steiner clearly found the incident amusing, as he explained that even the traffic situation meant that the drivers were driving around in their own little world and thoroughly unaware of any problem until they were shown the black flag: “They came in and they were “Oh, what happened” and then they realised nothing was working!”
“For them, it was just another day. They should look at the pitboard a bit, and I think they will now in future! If you don’t hear anybody on the radio for more than five laps at Monte Carlo, something must be wrong! Normally, as well, the drivers will get traffic and radio in complaining about the traffic, and this time, they had no traffic and they just kept on going! It all ended up good.”
Getting back out on track for the final twenty minutes of FP1 and running an unaffected programme in FP2, Steiner said the signs are good that they will be able to maintain their top ten pace throughout the weekend:
“We were pretty happy after FP1, we had no idea where we were really but second practice didn’t look too bad. It looks as though we can get the tyres to work and the drivers were happy with the balance of the cars so hopefully it stays like this throughout the weekend.”