Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has pinpointed the cause of the premature waving of the chequered flag at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend, which reduced the race length from 56 laps to 54 laps. The rules dictate that once the chequered flag is shown, the race is over, which means that although the drivers continued to race the remaining laps, the final two laps do not count in the final standings.
Reportedly, local race director (each race has a local race director, who would preside over most races at the track, but is under the command of FIA race director Charlie Whiting during F1 races) Zhuang Tao radioed to Whiting to ask him if he should wave the white flag to signal the start of the penultimate lap. After Whiting replied, Zhuang radioed the flagman with the words “no flag now”. It seems the flag man missed the word “no” and believed that he was to wave the flag, which he did.
Although Lewis Hamilton still won the race, and there are no differences in the top ten point-scoring positions, it does make Kamui Kobayashi’s spectacular overtake on Marussia’s Jules Bianchi on the penultimate lap redundant, moving the Japanese driver back to nineteenth.
Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.