Supercars rookie unfazed by blue flag critics
Supercars rookie Jack Smith has waved off suggestions that he didn't obey blue flags in the closing stages of today's race and denied claims he cost Mark Winterbottom a podium finish.
The Wildcard entrant was slammed by a number of lead drivers following today's opener in Tasmania, having been caught by the frontrunners in the closing stages.
Race winner Scott McLaughlin was among the critics, saying post race: "I caught him a fair bit and I just thought, 'you know, just get out of the way man. It's just easier, get out of the way and make friends in your first race, rather than lose them'."
McLaughlin's teammate Fabian Coulthard was left with the impression that even with the blue flags out Smith needed to be overtaken rather than simply getting out of the way.
"The blue flags might be out, but you still need to make a legitimate move," he said.
"You had to physically bomb him to get past, which, if you read the blue flag rules it's let the car go no dramas."
Mark Winterbottom was the most aggrieved by Smith, claiming that coming across the 20-year-old cost him a podium finish.
He reckons being stuck behind Smith let Shane van Gisbergen to get close enough to strike, which he did on the penultimate lap.
"I caught a Wildcard guy and he didn't move out of the way, [there were] blue flags, I dropped a second on that lap and then I was vulnerable," said Winterbottom.
"I tried to defend, but I didn't have enough tyre grip. It's frustrating because I think we would've got a trophy then, but you can't control that sort of stuff."
Smith, however, was unfazed by his critics.
The Brad Jones Racing driver, a regular in the second-tier Super2 series, says he gave everyone space, and that he even tried to indicate to McLaughlin to make sure he knew to pass.
“I let them through. I had McLaughlin behind me, I knew he was there,” said Smith.
“I put the indicator on a couple of times and said ‘the gap’s there, go for it’ and I was waiting for him to pass me and he didn’t a couple of times.
“I was fully aware that everyone was there. Winterbottom passed me as soon as he got to me, so I don’t really see what the problem is.
“I let them through as well as what I thought I could. I don’t really see how I cost him a trophy.
“I didn’t really want to get on the brakes and move offline, I felt like I had my own race to do in a way.
"I didn’t think there was an issue.”
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