It remains to be seen whether Formula One officials will continue to use celebrities and others to wave the checkered flag after Sunday’s embarrassing incident at the conclusion of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Well, let’s make that a conclusion that came two laps early instead of the scheduled 70-lap event.
The reason the race was “shortened” had nothing to do with weather or track conditions. Rather, supermodel Winnie Harlow was given the honor of waving the checkered flag in Sunday’s race.
The only problem is she waved the flag one lap early! Ergo, the race finished two laps shorter than advertised, much to the chagrin of competitors, teams and fans.
F1 rules state that if a checkered flag is waved too early, the race is considered over at the end of the last completed lap. Because Harlow waved the checkered flag before Lap 69 was over, the race outcome reverted back to an official completion after Lap 68.
According to various reports, Harlow was instructed to wave the flag by a race official after there was apparently a miscommunication or misunderstanding between race control and officials in the start/finish flagstand.
Ergo, an official next to Harlow told her to throw the checkers, even though there was still one more lap to be run.
As a result, F1 officials ruled the race complete after Lap 68, two laps prematurely.
Harlow took to Twitter to give more of her side of the situation.
The incident was downplayed by F1 officials because it likely would not have changed the outcome of the race. Winner Sebastien Vettel led the entire race and likely would still have won even if the race went its scheduled length, unless he wrecked or ran out of fuel in the two laps that were never run.
Vettel was concerned at what happened, not so much because of the mistake, but from a safety standpoint.
“Some of the marshals were already celebrating,” Vettel said. “I was just worried that people don’t jump on the track and start celebrating. We’re still going at full pace.”
Once the confusion subsided, at least one driver, seventh-place finisher Niko Hulkenberg, tried to make light of the situation.
Harlow’s miscue wasn’t the first time a similar event has occurred. Back in 2002 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, legendary soccer star Pele was late in waving the checkered flag. And then in 2014 at the Chinese Grand Prix, the checkered flag was waved one lap early.