Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018

Vettel feared chequered flag error would cause track invasion

2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says he was worried fans would run onto the live race track after the chequered flag was waved one lap too soon at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Celebrity guest model Winnie Harlow was invited to wave the flag at the end of the race but a mix-up caused it to shown on lap 69 instead of 70. Vettel said he knew it wasn’t the end of the race but was concerned others wouldn’t.

“I knew that there was another lap because I have the lap count on the dash and I have the lap count on the pit board,” he said. “I was surprised and I asked for confirmation and they said ‘no, keep going’.”

“Then I was a bit worried that nobody runs on the track. But it was all OK.”

Vettel revealed he was distracted in the second half of the race because he had to make frequent settings changes to his car.

“There was a point in the second stint where I had to switch on and off a lot of sensors. I think there was a small issue in the background.

“At [one] point I was close to saying when am I allowed to drive again and focus on driving because I was looking down and changing so many settings. It’s not easy to keep the focus and keep the gap but we controlled the race well.

“The first stint was crucial because we were able to open a gap, we were able to save fuel, manage the tyres and that helped us in the second stint to manage even more so. I think Valtteri [Bottas] was running a bit out of fuel towards the end which for us wasn’t the case because we were saving fuel all the way.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Vettel feared chequered flag error would cause track invasion”

  1. Poor girl; didn’t they gave her any help with this?

  2. Next time it will be dropping the flag and causing an accident. Just keep the “celebrities” away please.

  3. “Saving fuel all the way”… Hmmm.

    1. @makana odd to read that, considering there was a reasonably long safety car period… what were they planning to do without it? Monaco-style cruising I suspect…

      1. @fer-no65 It’s a bit confusing; is he saying they Had to save fuel or they could afford going fast while saving fuel for a battle later – if it happened.

    2. Hmmmm what? It’s Canada, a track traditionally high on fuel usage. Everybody was saving fuel, Vettel was just doing it to a mild level all race, whilst Bottas did all his near the end.

      1. Hmmm meaning Seb is saying Ferrari had even more performance in hand or had to save fuel consistently from the go; that’s Hmmm what.

  4. Bring back Glen Dix !!!

  5. Considering that there are “rules” in place for the possibility that the checkered flag is show early, the second such a mistake is realised, the red flag should be flown immediately.

    The effect on results, lap count, etc would be the same, bit the possible risk to fans, drivers and marshals would be instantly mitigated.

    If you think I’m over-reacting, fine, but F1 increasingly uses the safety argument for silly little things, then makes a mockery of itself for things like this.

  6. Who was the idiot in charge who gave this brainless “supermodel” the chequered flag ? Someone has to be held responsible and take the consequences.

    Seb Vettel is absolutely right. Dropping the chequered flag with still one lap to go in the race was extremely dangerous, for the reasons he pointed out.

    1. Given her activist work i’d certainly wouldn’t say brainless. Even if you view her activism as purely cynical

  7. Not really as the fans aren’t allowed to go to the track when the chequered flag is waved anyway, only after all the drivers have passed it and returned to the pits except maybe for Monza and Melbourne a few times.

  8. I was always under the impression that the chequered flag marked the end of the race, and for a driver to carry on racing after seeing it was a breach of regulations. What’s not clear was whether the flag was shown to Vettel or cars behind him.
    A lap early or not, chequered flag means the race is over.

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