While Michael Schumacher might seem to have been justly punished for ignoring a black flag at Silverstone, there is a precedent for greater leniency. . .
Back in 1956, 25-year old Bruce Halford was fined £16 for not only ignoring the black flag, but a red one too, “It was at the Nürburgring, my second Grand Prix, and my first abroad,” remembers Bruce. “I was running in fourth place, but I’d lost much of my Maserati’s exhaust system which meant that not only was it very noisy but I was also being gassed.
“Fangio came up behind me and perhaps he touched me — maybe I didn’t move out of the way quickly enough because that was his way of reminding people that he was close behind — and I spun. The engine died and the marshals pushed me off the track, but some of the spectators got together and got me going again and I continued.
“The officials hung out the black flag because I had received outside assistance and, technically speaking, I should not have been allowed to continue. But I thought ‘What the hell? I’m running in fourth place and I’m not going to give up now’. I carried on for a couple more laps and then they hung out the red flag and I ignored that for a couple of laps as well. In those days there was a back straight that ran just behind the pits. They could give you the black flag twice in one lap, so there wasn’t much chance of me missing it.
“At the end of the race, when I’d finished fourth, Alan Collinson, then Ferodo’s competitions manager, came over and asked me how I was feeling. I said that I wasn’t feeling too hot, because of the effect of the exhaust fumes, and he told me to play it up a bit, because I was in big trouble. So someone hauled me out of the car and I spent some time recovering, but even so, the officials disqualified me from my fourth place and asked to see me the next day.
“Someone must have driven me out to some Schloss somewhere, because I didn’t have a car of my own at the time, and I thought I was going to be in real trouble. Sure enough, I was asked to explain myself, and then the officials met and eventually I was fined the equivalent of 16 pounds.
“But the affair wasn’t over yet, because I knew that I would be reported to the RAC and they might take my competitions licence away. So I arranged to have lunch with Dean Delamont of the RAC who told me that I’d been a naughty boy and not to do it again. And that was it!” B C