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

5 Comments

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.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.