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

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Canadian GP
Location Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Author Adam Cooper
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021