The Blue Flag position is commonly called the "Safety" position. A possible explanation may be that because shortly after the Yellow flag position was conceived, the guy with the yellow flag realized that to monitor the activity downstream of his station, he could not watch oncoming, upstream traffic. Having seen the havoc the racing chariots were capable of, he asked for someone to watch upstream and pull him to safety if needed.
Well, as MY version of this history goes, the "Safety" person began to watch racing downstream. Fearful of being trampled by one of the racing chariot’s steeds, the yellow flagger figured that the "Safety" person should have a secondary duty. He could display a Blue Flag with a yellow stripe to the drivers, signaling them to monitor their mirrors for overtaking traffic. I don’t hold with the philosophy of some of the older flaggers, that the yellow striped blue flag appeared to the slower steed as a carrot being offered and thus added incentive to block the faster horsepowered chariot. Although…they could be right…
So, this brings us to modern day times…a corner station with yellow and blue flag positions. The blue flagger/safety’s PRIMARY responsibility remains that of warning/protecting the yellow flagger. Next in the pecking order is the signaling of drivers and then the responding to cars/drivers who have found their way out of competition at the flagger’s station. When the showing of "other" flags (debris, white, etc.) is called for it is the job of the blue flagger to display these, as the yellow flagger has only a singular purpose.
Blue flagging is the most difficult and challenging of the routine duties of a Flagging and Communications worker to master (if it can be "mastered"), especially to the novice.
During practice sessions, the worker does not know what the driver’s intentions are. They may be breaking in a new engine, bedding brakes, trying to find "their" line, trying to follow a competitor’s line, just trying to find the track, or trying to win the practice session (red mist). Be especially alert for situations like a 7 cylindered 600 HP GT1 ground pounder being overtaken by a "meep-meep-Hi" showroom stock car whose driver’s ears are laid back and his tongue is hanging out thru the window net.
Usually during qualifying sessions the drivers want to warm their tires and engine before their assault on the lap record. Drivers may elect to "run in packs" or alone, some will use the entire allotted time at speed, others take their best shot and then cool the car down for a couple of laps before pitting. The same scenarios could happen just as in the practice session. Some drivers elect to pit to have their tire temperatures taken or to change to new tires and reenter the session, then suddenly appear to the blue flagger in a new group of cars!…it’s always the same…nothing is ever the same…
The race…finally the blue flagger gets a break. A perk for the blue flagger is they, above everyone else on station, should know who is leading the race. Blue flagging the race is usually reserved for when the leaders overtake the backmarkers.
The blue flag is It is a VERY valuable tool for the drivers and therefore all efforts should be made to properly apply the blue flag. However, mistakes will be made. It’s the station where the blue flag is constantly displayed in error, that drivers will tend to "tune out".
As a blue flagger you should:
The challenge to the blue flagger is to COMMUNIATE to the drivers:
This is not intended to be an all inclusive tutorial on blue flagging or being "Safety". Trackside time and experience are the best teachers. Blue flagging is the most difficult task that a flagger is asked to master, and one of the most satisfying, done correctly. It takes total concentration to do the job right and you have to be sensitive to changes with competitors as the session progresses. Learning when, where and how to best display it can only come with lots of practice. Your best efforts will be appreciated, mistakes will be made, but if you end your blue flag sessions knowing you've done the best you could, that’s all anyone can ask of you.