Published On: Thu, Jun 14th, 2018

FIA mulls F1 chequered flag system change after Canadian GP error

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Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting says lessons will be learned from the premature chequered flag at the Canadian Grand Prix, and has suggested a future automated system.

The flag was waved by model Winnie Harlow after 69 of the 70 laps in Montreal because a local official miscalculated and told her it was the last lap.

The results subsequently went back a further lap to the end of lap 68, robbing Daniel Ricciardo of his fastest lap.

A similar incident happened at the 2014 Chinese GP, while football legend Pele missed leader Michael Schumacher at the 2002 Brazilian GP and waved the flag too late.

Safety concerns were raised after the Montreal incident, with fears marshals could have gone onto the track believing that the race was over as well as the possibility of some drivers cruising while others were told to race on by their teams.

Whiting said that he will now consider having the official signal for the end of the race shown on the light boards above the start/finish line, which would over-ride any issues with the actual flag.

“I think we’d need to probably think about having a better end of race signal,” said Whiting.

“The chequered flag is traditional, but it’s something that, as we’ve seen, is prone to mistakes.

“You could, and it would be quite straightforward for us, make the big black panel show a chequered flag at the appropriate time.

“But if you’re going to do it automatically, then you’ve got to think about exactly when you’re going to do it, when you’re going to activate it.

“It’s not completely straightforward, it needs a little bit of thought.

“We need to try and get to the situation where drivers only look at the chequered flag on the light panel. If they don’t see that, then the race hasn’t ended.

“Whether we need to go to that length to rectify a situation that happens every 10 years is arguable. But it’s something that I’ll certainly be looking at.”

Whiting said he had no plans to stop the F1 organisation designating VIPs to wave the flag.

“The celebrity was not to blame, I don’t think that that is anything that we need to consider, certainly not at the moment, anyway,” he added.

“We may need to look at other things, like the amount of people that get up there sometimes. That can be a little bit difficult.

“It’s the same at the start, you often get people up at the start, and they tend to bring friends with them, and it gets a bit busy up there.”



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