The FIA will look into the procedure surrounding the waving of the checkered flag after the Canadian Grand Prix was brought to a premature end.
Model Winnie Harlow was tasked with waving the checkered flag in Montreal but started waving it one lap early after a miscommunication. In accordance with the regulations, the race was actually then classified over at 68 laps, and FIA race director Charlie Whiting says the historical waving of the flag could be replaced to avoid similar situations in future.
“I think we need to think about having a better end-of-race signal,” Whiting said. “The checkered flag is traditional but it is something that is prone to mistakes. It would be straightforward for us to use the big black panel that you see up there to display a checkered flag at the appropriate time. But if you’re going to do it automatically you’ve got to think about when you are going to do it and when you are going to activate it.
“It’s not completely straightforward and it needs a little bit of thought, but it still wouldn’t have stopped the situation here where the race control, presumably – again we need to look into this in more detail – told a message to all marshals that the checkered flag had been given when in fact the drivers were probably seeking to do another lap to finish the real race distance.
“We need to get to the situation now where the drivers only look at the checkered flag on the light panel, because if they don’t see that the race hasn’t ended. But whether we need to go to those lengths to rectify a situation that happens once every ten years, is arguable. It’s something that I will certainly be looking at.”
And Whiting explained that Harlow herself was not to blame for the error, with the model simply following orders about when to wave the flag.
“The checkered flag was shown a lap early because there was a miscommunication between the start platform and the guy that they call the starter, the guy that starts and finishes the races.
“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 in fact he was asking a question. He just showed it a lap early, it’s as simple as that.
“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.”