Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2019

Use a traditional chequered flag to end the race, says Vettel after timing blunder

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Formula 1 should use a real chequered flag instead of an electronic one to signal the end of a race, Sebastian Vettel has said after yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix was accidentally ended a lap early.

Although a chequered flag is still waved at the end of races, a chequered flag light panel has been used to officially signal the end of the race since the beginning of this season. This signal was incorrectly displaced to leader Valtteri Bottas on the penultimate lap of yesterday’s race, which meant the result had to be taken based on 52 laps instead of the scheduled 53.

Vettel, who said he hadn’t noticed the early electronic flag signal, believes F1 should go back to using a traditional chequered flag.

“With the current rules, had they shown the chequered flag a lap too early today, the race sort of still continues,” he said. “And that’s wrong I think.”

He pointed out that teams give their drivers a countdown to the end of the race to prevent any confusion about how many laps are remaining.

“We have the pit board giving us the information on the laps. We see on the dashboard as well how many laps are still to go. So I still saw there was a lap to go. And I got the call by radio that it is the last lap.

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“Obviously there was a confusion at the pit wall because I think it was more the timing that set the chequered flag, not the actual chequered flag on the track.”

The use of the electronic flag to officially signal the end of the race was prompted by last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, which ended a lap early because the flag was waved too soon.

Winnie Harlow, Canadian Grand Prix, 2018
Celebrity guest Winnie Harlow was told to wave the flag too early in Canada last year
“We had an issue in Canada one year where the chequered flag came too early and now as I understand it the timing is more is the decisive one,” Vettel continued.

“Whereas I think it should still be the chequered flag as well. So if you get one of the two wrong, it doesn’t matter which one. I think for us drivers it matters that if we see the chequered flag the race shouldn’t continue.”

Vettel, who almost jumped the start yesterday, suspects the signal to end the race was given too soon because “somebody was a bit eager”.

“So I wasn’t the only one today that was eager and pushed and went a bit early,” he added.

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Dieter Rencken
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40 comments on “Use a traditional chequered flag to end the race, says Vettel after timing blunder”

  1. Stephen Higgins
    14th October 2019, 9:52

    What kinds of state is F1 in when we can’t even decide how to end a friggin’ race properly ??

  2. Honestly, what are we doing here? Playing bumper cars between tradition and modernity?

    Vettel, who almost jumped the start yesterday, suspects the signal to end the race was given too soon because “somebody was a bit eager”.

    “So I wasn’t the only one today that was eager and pushed and went a bit early,” he added.

    LOL, good he sees the irony in this situation 🙂

  3. Why do they need any specially designated method at all?
    How difficult is it to count the number of laps completed?..

    Once the number is reached – the race is over. Regardless of flag, panel, or badger running across the track.
    Leave the chequered flag as a traditional symbol only.

    1. How difficult is it to count the number of laps completed?..
      Once the number is reached – the race is over.

      Well that’s exactly where the confusion comes from: the 53/53 lap counter. Once the upper number is reached, the race is NOT over! Instead, the last lap is started and while the leader will have to complete another full lap, many of the other drivers from that moment will be doing another 1,5 or even nearly 2 more laps before they reach the chequered flag…

      From a programmer’s point of view, starting at 0/53 and stopping right at 53/53 makes a lot more intuitive sense.

  4. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    14th October 2019, 10:54

    Except that doesn’t work, Seb. Remember Canada 2018?

    1. It worked perfectly for 60+ years, before one reckless reaction to one silly incident last year…

      1. What I’ve always wanted to know is why a D list celebrity was given the flag to wave in Canada instead of a race official? It’s the World Championship, not some off season invitational stadium autocross race.

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          14th October 2019, 16:00

          It wasn’t Harlow’s fault. the official present told her to wave it

      2. It wasn’t the only incident. It happened multiple times in the past 60 years.

        To prevent these issues a electronic variant was introduced, but apparently it still has some glitches that need ironing out as it was just introduced.

      3. @dallein, actually, no – there have been multiple instances of races accidentally being ended early due to officials accidentally waiving the flag prematurely. The 2018 Canadian GP might have been a more high profile case, but it’d certainly happened before (e.g. 2014 Chinese GP), so flag waivers are not without fault either.

    2. So what failed in China few years back? It seems like a random software error that pops up even after thorough testing including scenario for said failure showed no fault.

    3. I think the point isn’t so much to reduce the error frequency, it’s more to improve the reaction to the error in that drivers are probably more likely to react to the flag.

      Anyway, what a farce! I look forward to the day that the chequered flag is shown a lap late and a Williams 2 laps down takes the chequered flag and then the modern day Jean-Marie Balestre decides who goes up on the podium.

      1. Ha! So @cevert73 who’s the modern-day Balestre?

  5. This is the symptoms of the times. First they removed grid girls, then grid flags, now we have this mess.

    Instead of waving black and yellow flag, Charles was issued a radio suggestion to pit.

    Instead of waving chequered flag a display showed the end of the race.

    Instead of grid girls…

    1. There is no place for the objectification of women in motorsports.
      So grid girls being gone is good.
      I would rather see women racing alongside men. I hope that day comes soon.

      1. There was no objectification of women.
        For your information – no one actually consulted with “objectified women”, if their removal from F1 is welcomed or not (by the very same women).

        They simply lost the activity most of them loved doing.

        1. @dallein Agreed.

          @nesarajah It disgusts me to see men who are better looking than me in movies … does that mean they should all lose their jobs?

        2. @dallein No objectification?

          Very bold claim, given that was literally their purpose. To be attractive objects to look at.

          Pretty disappointed to see these comments. I thought we’d all moved on and got in with it. Clearly some are still stuck the past. Very disappointing.

        3. Grid girls were removed because they contributed to the objectification of all women. They contributed to the ugly societal stereotype that the only women of worth are mothers or those that make hetero men’s privates happy. And if you think that stereotype has no real-world ramifications, that it’s “just all in good fun”, you haven’t been paying attention to the news.

      2. @nesarajah wow do you actually believe that women can be competitive in F1?

        If so, I have a very nice bridge for sale? Females can use it just as well as males. Interested?

        1. @f1osaurus I thought your handle was just a cool play on words, not that you were literally a dinosaur with utterly outdated thinking. Thanks for clearing that up.

          1. @justrhysism LOL, you are hilarious.

            It’s a great bridge really. I’ll give you a good deal man. Come on. What do you say?

    2. Black and yellow?

      It is black with a big orange dot, aka the meatball that is the flag for technical trouble on your car.

    3. @jureo, wait a minute – didn’t you have a go at the FIA for the cases when the person waiving the flag made an error (e.g. 2014 Chinese GP) and how they should do something more modern?

      You complained before under the old system, so now that they’ve tried to rectify it, you complain again – are you just complaining for the sake of complaining?

  6. Agreed, lets go back to grid girls, flags and less complicated aerodynamics and less green technology and get those foolish looking children in their pajamas off the grid

  7. Smoke bombs …. end the race with smoke bombs.

    As soon as the obvious winner crosses the line, or it is looking like being a boring finish, set off smoke bombs at every corner without warning.
    Any driver who then slows down significantly before crossing the finish line gets fined a percentage of his annual salary.

    Or maybe employ someone who can count to count the laps completed?

    1. Or maybe employ someone who can count to count the laps completed?

      @nullapax – I nominate the dude who hands out caps to the drivers in the cool down room. Seems like he’d be twiddling his thumbs until then.

      1. @phylyp SHUSH! – don’t say that … I was hoping to apply for that job. It would suit me fine.

        1. Pretty sure that guy is employed by the Watch Maker’s Consortium, not the FIA. They all seem to get handed their sponsors’ watch before anything else.

        2. @nullapax – all venues have more laps than you have toes and fingers… And seeing as one of your hands is usually engaged holding a liquid refreshment, I think that’d make you ineligible… You’ll either call the race on the 15th lap, or drop your glass and soak yourself 😉

          1. @phylyp – you make a bold assumption regarding the quantity of my digits Sir!
            Furthermore I can assure you that sobriety does not figure in my calculations.

            …. who wants a cap? …..

    2. @nullapax

      You’ve got a point tho. How many races now end with fireworks as the winner crosses the line? Abu Dhabi and Singapore for certain. What happens if the fireworks are set off a lap early? Do we declare the race over? Are the fireworks deemed a distraction and we fly the red flag on safety grounds?

    3. Any driver who then slows down significantly before crossing the finish line gets fined a percentage of his annual salary.

      @nullapax You joke, but I think we both kinda know how this just wouldn’t work

  8. objectification lol! so what? women ( models) are beautiful, and sexy. and its the similarity between the beauty of a woman with that of a well designed beautiful speed machine (f1 car). no one said there should be no female racers! when have we ever heard someone say about a car : ‘ now he looks sexy’ because cars like many machinary evoke beauty in the feminine sense. not the masculine. no offense to any females out there. mayne i am wrong…

    1. Have you considered that it’s because males are the ones designing and labelling the machinery that it’s given feminine qualities? It’s men who project the “sexy” thoughts onto inanimate objects, just as they do the women they objectify.

  9. Formula 1 should use a real chequered flag instead of an electronic one to signal the end of a race,

    Yes!

  10. Given this system was put in to stop mistakes with waving the flag, but can’t guarantee things go as planned either, indeed, let’s just go back to the flag, which looks much nicer on tv, has a bit of nostalgia and show to it, and have some procedure around it to not get a hapless VIP shafted with waving it, especially not at the wrong time.

  11. Why does the system not have a countdown and a notification of the second last lap (indicating the chequered flag will be shown at the end of next lap) which the race director can check and make manual overrides in case there is a glitch.

    As a programmer, seems like someone put to much faith in the squishy human who programmed the thing. It may be computerised, but the computer is still driven by a human.

  12. @rhys and whats wrong with objectifying women? unless ofcause u prefer to objectify men? appreciating beauty and sexiness is not dirty. i do agree with u with the count down suggestion though.

Comments are closed.