FIA explains Canadian GP chequered flag incident

Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting says a miscommunication between local officials led to the chequered flag being shown one lap early in the Canadian Grand Prix.

FIA explains Canadian GP chequered flag incident
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari and Charlie Whiting, FIA Delegate
Race winner Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H takes the chequered flag
Winnnie Harlow, waves the chequered flag
Winnnie Harlow, waves the chequered flag
Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37 takes the chequered flag waved by Winnnie Harlow (CDN)
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, takes the chequered flag at the finish
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 take the chequered flag
Winnie Harlow, waves a chequered flag
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari and Charlie Whiting, FIA Delegate

The official on the start/finish stand, who carries the title of starter, thought race leader Sebastian Vettel was on his 70th and final lap, and mistakenly asked model Winnie Harlow to wave the flag when the Ferrari driver was actually completing his 69th lap.

Drivers continued to race for the extra lap, despite the fact that at some points on the track marshals were waving multiple flags in the traditional end of race salute.

The situation was treated in the same way as a red flag, and after initially being listed at lap 69 the final result subsequently went back to lap 68. There were no place changes in the top 10, although Daniel Ricciardo lost his fastest lap to Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

"The chequered flag was shown a lap early because of a miscommunication with the guy that they call the starter here, who starts and finishes the races," said Whiting.

"He thought it was the last lap, he asked race control to confirm it, they confirmed it, but they thought he was making a statement when he was asking a question.

"He just showed it a lap early, or he told the flag waver to show it a lap early, so it wasn't anything to do with the fact that it was a celebrity flag waver."

Whiting believes that the starter was misled by the TV graphic that notes the lap that the leader is on, rather than laps completed – which is what happened in a similar situation in China a few years ago.

"I think people who don't work in F1 are sometimes a little confused by the graphic that they see on the screen where it says 69 out of 70," he said.

"We all know that means we're on lap 69, but to someone who let's say is more casual observer thinks 'Oh, this must mean it's the last lap.'

"I think that's where the doubt originates. Obviously we need to do a better job of briefing these people.

"Just a simple miscommunication, a very regrettable one of course.

"You're dealing with a lot of human beings, different countries, different languages, and it's not always absolutely perfect.

"Of course we strive for perfection. Fortunately there was no real harm done, insofar as it didn't affect the result of the race."

Teams told to race on

Whiting said when teams asked what they should do after the flag was shown, he told them to race to the end of lap 70.

"It was very clear what had happened," he said.

"Under those circumstances, very few team managers would be absolutely sure that they could tell their driver to back off because that was that.

"My advice to anyone who asked was that they should just complete the race, to be sure."

Whiting acknowledged the situation was further complicated by marshals around the track believing that the race was over.

"This is part of the confusion. Sometimes marshals wave all their flags to congratulate the winner, and some of them were doing that, because they thought the race had finished too," he said.

"Presumably they'd been told that the chequered flag had been shown. But the fact that it had been shown early, they didn't know that of course.

"If all the marshals had started coming on the track when the guys were still racing, which is what I believe happened somewhere else in the past, that's something that if this ever happens again we need to make sure we can take care of that."

shares
comments
Renault: Red Bull risks losing new engine offer
Previous article

Renault: Red Bull risks losing new engine offer

Next article

Canadian Grand Prix driver ratings

Canadian Grand Prix driver ratings
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021