FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has clarified the confusion that led to model and activist Winnie Harloe waving the chequered flag a lap early at Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
“The chequered flag was shown a lap early because there was a miscommunication between the start platform and the guy they call the starter here, the guy who starts and finishes the race,” Whiting has been reported to explain on RaceFans.net.
“He thought it was the last lap, he asked race control to confirm it, they confirmed it. They thought he was making a statement when he was, in fact, asking a question, and he just showed it a lap early.
“He told the flag-waver to wave it a lap early, so it wasn’t anything to do with the fact it was a celebrity flag-waver.”
“The reason for doing that is to make sure that if there was some confusion over it then if you go back to the end of the previous lap then you will get a true race classification.
“I think people who don’t work in Formula 1 sometimes are confused by the graphic that they see on the screen where it says 69 out of 70. We all know that means we’re on lap 69 but to someone who’s a slightly more casual observer, might think ‘that must mean it’s the last lap’. I think that’s where the doubt originates.
“We obviously need to do a better job briefing these people.”
Article 43.2 of the sporting regulations states: “Should for any reason the end-of-race signal be given before the leading car completes the scheduled number of laps or the prescribed time has been completed, the race will be deemed to have finished when the leading car last crossed the [finishing] line before the signal was given.”
Much ado about absolutely nothing
By Craig Norman, Badger GP Editor
Celebrity flag wavers are nothing new and won’t be removed or banned after this latest dropping of the PR ball. But what should come from this is that they shouldn’t shoulder the blame for being told what to do at a specific time – Winnie Harlow was told to do so and did it perfectly, just at the wrong moment. It’s a bit much for something that was, in reality, absolutely nothing.
Modern celebrity culture is permeating into every aspect of our lives and Formula One is no exception. Having Harlow wave the flag was a way for fans of her to be introduced to Formula One, and vice versa, but the reaction to a mistake was instant and is still, unbelievably, raging on less than 24 hours after the race.
Pele missed waving the chequered flag at the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix and it’s now seen as a gaffe that appears on YouTube and, admittedly, F1 websites like Badger that like to poke fun. Had Twitter and Facebook been around then he would have been vilified and metaphorically burnt at the stake.
And that’s the point – this is a nothing action that is highlighted, magnified and over-analysed to extreme degrees. Let it go, go down the pub, and wait for it to all blow over.