Chinese GP called two laps early after checkered flag mix-up

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The FIA has confirmed that the official result for the Chinese Grand Prix came two laps before the end of the race after a mix-up with when the checkered flag was due to be waved.

The race was due to run – as it always has done – for 56 laps at the Shanghai International Circuit. However, for some reason, the checkered flag was waved at the end of lap 55.

Race leader Lewis Hamilton immediately radioed his Mercedes team to ask why it had been shown early, but they told him to continue pushing and ignore it. The live timing from FOM and TV graphics also did not take it into account, suggesting that it was simply a misjudgement.

However, the FIA has since confirmed that this was – albeit accidentally – the official end of the race.

Result declared at end of Lap 54/56, in accordance with Article 43.2 of sporting regulations,” a note with the official result read. “Checkered flag was shown to leader at end of Lap 55.”

Article 43.2 reads: “Should for any reason the end-of-race signal be given before the leading car completes the scheduled number of laps, or the prescribed time has been completed, the race will be deemed to have finished when the leading car last crossed the line before the signal was given.”

Thankfully, there was just one change of position during the final two laps. Kamui Kobayashi and Jules Bianchi had been embroiled in a close battle for 17th place during the closing stages, and Kobayashi finally found a way past with two corners to go, securing the position for Caterham. However, this has now been reversed, with Bianchi being classified in 17th place ahead of Kobayashi.

Strangely, this is not the first time that there has been a mix-up with the checkered flag. At the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix, national soccer legend Pele was busy chatting to the stewards when race winner Michael Schumacher crossed the line, and therefore failed to wave the flag when he was supposed to. Instead, it was waved at Jordan driver Takuma Sato, who was some two laps down on the leader.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”