Winnie Harlow, Canadian Grand Prix, 2018

False flags: F1’s three other chequered flag blunders

2018 Canadian Grand Prix stats and facts

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Celebrity guest Canadian Grand Prix flag-waver Winner Harlow can claim she was in good company when she hung out the chequer too early under instruction from an official last Sunday.

The first occasion this happened in F1 was 40 years ago at the Argentinian Grand Prix. The culprit on that occasion was none other than local hero and five-times Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, who mistook Ronnie Peterson’s fifth-place Lotus for that of his race-leading team mate Mario Andretti.

Two other races have been brought to an early end due to hasty flag-waving since then. Alain Prost was shown the chequered flag a lap early when he won the British Grand Prix in 1985 and the same happened to Lewis Hamilton in China four years ago.

Last weekend it was Sebastian Vettel who won, scoring the 50th victory of his F1 career in Canada. That made him the fourth driver in F1 history to score a half-century of victories, joining Michael Schumacher, Prost and Hamilton.

Vettel’s victory was the 232nd for Ferrari. They now have 50 more than the next most successful team, McLaren, which has gone more than five years without winning a race. Williams, who are third on the list with 114, have been waiting even longer.

It was Ferrari’s first win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since 2004. They’d waited even longer for a pole position, but Vettel’s 54th career pole on Saturday ended their 17-year drought in Canada. Vettel also ended Hamilton’s run of three consecutive pole positions at this track.

It was a processional race to say the least. The top two places were occupied by the same two drivers all race long: Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. The last time this happened, in Mexico last year, Bottas also finished second.

Bottas took his fourth podium finish of the year in Canada, all of which have been second places. It’s worth reflecting again on how much that puncture in Azerbaijan cost him: without it he’d be only two points behind Hamilton and would have finished ahead of his team mate more often than not so far this year.

Although Hamilton could only manage fifth, his worst finishing position at this track, it was his 32nd consecutive points finish, which puts him five ahead of the previous record.

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There were no points for Fernando Alonso in his 300th appearance in a round of the world championship. He has only started 297 races, having not officially started the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix, 2005 United States Grand Prix and 2017 Russian Grand Prix. He should therefore reach his 300th F1 race start at Silverstone. That will also be his fifth race on consecutive weekends, as he makes his Le Mans 24 Hours debut on Saturday.

Jacques Villeneuve, Ferrari 312T3, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018
Jacques in Gilles’s Ferrari
Ferrari copped a bit of flak on social media before the race weekend began by using a picture of Toronto to represent Montreal. However first practice featured one driver from each city: Montrealer Lance Stroll was joined by Torontonian Nicholas Latifi, who was making his F1 race weekend debut.

This was the first time two Canadians appeared on-track together since qualifying for the 1981 season finale at Las Vegas, where Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve was joined by his brother Jacques.

The other Jacques Villeneuve – the 1997 world champion – did a pre-race demonstration run in the car his father used to win the race 40 years ago, at the track which is now named after the late Ferrari star.

With the Canadian Grand Prix behind us we are now one-third of the way through this 21-race season. All of the seven races so far have had the following things in common: Alonso has out-qualified Vandoorne, the pole sitter has kept the lead on lap one, Ericsson has not made it into Q2 and Grosjean and Sirotkin haven’t scored any points.

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Review the year so far in statistics here:

Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Canadian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

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2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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23 comments on “False flags: F1’s three other chequered flag blunders”

  1. Ricciardo and Ericsson have started from 6th and 19th on the grid respectively on this circuit for two seasons in a row now.

    Alonso has now DNF’d on this venue for two consecutive seasons while Stroll sustained his first non-finish of the season and in the process lost his chance to reach the 100% finishing record as well, which is still possible to achieve for Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, and Sainz.

    The 2nd lowest winner’s overall race time only behind 2004 based on the full race distance of 70 laps rather than the officially counted 68. Furthermore, the official lap record almost got beaten. Just two tenths short.

    Bottas has now finished in top-3 on this track for four successive seasons (twice in both 2nd and 3rd place) while his teammate’s both winning and pole streaks on this particular venue came to an end.

    The 2nd season in a row that this circuit sees the SC come out on track on the opening lap (also the third venue to feature similar feat this season in addition to Baku and Circuit de Catalunya), which also means that we’ve still yet to get an entirely SC or VSC-free race this season.

    The first time since the 2014 Chinese GP that the final race results have been taken from the third to last lap of a race.

    The 2nd consecutive race led from start-to-finish by the polesitter. This hasn’t happened in F1 during the turbo-hybrid era before.

    1. ”the pole sitter has kept the lead on lap one”
      – In three out of those seven races (Australia, China, and Azerbaijan), the driver leading the race throughout the opening lap didn’t win that race.

  2. So a non-world champion has never won a prematurely waved race.

    1. And, @flatsix, for the first 3 occurrences the driver that won the prematurely waved race went on to win the championship that year. Wonder if that trend will continue?

      1. That is a really good stat. Good signs for Vettel.

        1. Will be very important to see what happens in hungary! The driver who wins in hungary most likely won’t win the title, it’s happened since 2004, and even in 2017 vettel was quite well placed in hungary, he won and things went downhill after that, with mechanical issues and crashes at start in the following races.

          However chances are a red bull will win hungary, they seem really good on those tracks this year.

  3. Vettel has now stood on the podium exactly 50% of his race starts

  4. and they’ve promised to fix it this time

  5. McLaren, which has gone more than five years without winning a race. Williams, who are third on the list with 114, have been waiting almost as long.

    …I think Williams’ wait has been a bit longer (actually probably more than 6 years already…unless they won after Catalunya 2012. Team Enstone, OTOH, won the very race after McLaren last won IIRC, and afaik hasn’t since) @keithcollantine

    1. And if you require a sample of 2 races to avoid flukes, you have to go back over 13 years for williams and only just over 5 for mclaren and lotus.

  6. Only the second time (after 2013) where Hamilton has finished but not won in Canada.

    Ricciardo has exactly 900 career points.

    4th time Hulkenberg has started 7th in the 7 races so far this year, and the 5th time this year Sainz has started 9th.

    Every driver has beaten their team-mate at least once this year.

    Under the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system, Vettel and Hamilton would be tied on 49 points.

    14th time Vettel has led every lap – only trails Senna (19).

    First Ferrari driver to lead every lap since Alonso in Singapore 2010.

    4 poles in the first 7 races for Vettel – last driver to manage this was M Schumacher in 2004 (5/7).

    4th pole for Vettel in Montreal – equals Marina Bay, Shanghai, and Suzuka.

    1st time since Singapore and Korea 2013 that the polesitter has led every lap in consecutive races.

    Verstappen’s 13th podium in his 67th GP start – equalling G Villeneuve at the circuit named after him.

    Thanks to statsf1.com, f1.channel4.com and magnetimarelli.com for some of these.

    1. Vandoorne didn’t beat alonso yet this year, I don’t think ending last or thereabouts while the other driver who is very far ahead has a mechanical issue and retires, counts as beating!

    2. Also the pole stat is interesting, so vettel and ferrari this year managed to get just 1 less pole out of 7 than schumacher did with a dominant ferrari, considering this year depending on tracks, the top 3 teams are extremely well matched, it’s quite impressive.

  7. First Ferrari driver to lead every lap since Alonso in Singapore 2010.

    4 poles in the first 7 races for Vettel – last driver to manage this was M Schumacher in 2004 (5/7).

    In 2015, Vettel led every lap at Singapore, and Hamilton took six out of the first seven poles.

    1. @simracer I guess that last one should be ‘Ferrari-driver’, which makes sense as Alonso and Massa weren’t realy qualifying men…

  8. Isn’t this Verstappen’s first clean weekend of the season?

  9. The crazy one I’ll follow is that if Leclerc scores a point at the next round, he will have scored as many championship points in 8 rounds as Ericsson in 84.

    1. He has already beaten his team mates best championship year. Says a lot about the teammate and his cars but here you have it.

  10. It’s interesting about bottas, but the point surely is that if he’d had a clean weekend in australia he would be much closer. given his pace in subsequent races we can infer that he would’ve finished in second or better if he hadn’t stuffed it into the wall in quali. there’s very little point talking about events that are out of a driver’s control (if vettel had had unhindered races throughout this year he would be miles ahead right now) such as the bottas puncture – but we definitely can and should be discussing where a driver/team left points on the table through their own errors.

  11. Mark Sinclair
    15th June 2018, 11:43

    In this instance, the early flag waving did not affect the outcome of the race.

    Imagine if it had happened at Brazil in 2008, Felipe Massa would have been champion and not Lewis.

  12. I remember one occasion when the flag was waved too late. It was during the Brazilian GP 2002, when Pelé missed the race winner Michael Schumacher followed closely by his brother. Pelé then waved the flag timidly later on, when lapped Takuma Sato was going past.

  13. It’s fantastic that F1 teams keep their cars.

Comments are closed.