How do the simplified stage signs work?
Traditionally, there are six different signs used on a stage. The simplified system still has signs at all the same places, and all the signs are the same color as before. However, there are only three designs, instead of six.
Here are the bullet points:
- The traditional sequence was yellow, red, red at the start and finish of the stage. This doesn't change.
- The traditional flying finish has a big flag on red, preceded by a big yellow sign. This doesn't change.
What do they look like?
Here they are, in the order you would see them for an arrival control. For the flying finish, the two reds would be swapped.
Simplified inventory. Instead of four copies of six different signs, you use eight copies of three different signs. This means that each sign is twice as useful, it can be deployed in twice as many places. The triple zero car has to carry fewer spares. If a sign is lost, it's twice as likely that there's a replacement available from whatever stash you have. You can perform turnaround stages without moving signs from one end to the other. That reduces from 12 to 6 the amount of signs you would need for a "correct" signing of a turnaround stage.
But why change it? We've used the old system forever, why change? The biggest argument for using the FIA standard signs is that because they are so common, a racer could attend from somewhere else and still recognize the signs. That's a valid point, but the actual statistics say that this doesn't happen very often. Past experience has also shown that if the existing signs were swapped for "incorrect" signs (for example, at a turn around stage, where the flying finish signs were used for the start) that all the racers adapted to this instantly and without trouble. As long as the color was correct (red versus yellow) the operation went smoothly.
Why spend all the money on new signs? Truthfully, the group of old signs I had no longer had enough signs to do all the stages, or even half of them, as they had been lost and destroyed over the years. I inherited those signs in 2006 and they lasted to 2013, so not a bad run. So new signs were going to be purchased anyway, and having fewer designs actually means needing fewer signs, thus saving money.
It looks much more complicated in this table than it is when you see it out on the stages.
LocationTraditional FIA StyleSimplified Style
Warning of approach to arrival controlYellow ClockYellow Arrow
Arrival ControlRed ClockRed STOP
Racing StartRed Solid Black FlagRed Solid Black Flag
Warning of approach to flying finishYellow Checkered FlagYellow Arrow
Flying FinishRed Checkered FlagRed Solid Black Flag
Finish ControlRed STOPRed STOP