Race result called two laps early due to flag error

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014The Chinese Grand Prix was accidentally shortened by two laps because race winner Lewis Hamilton was shown the chequered flag early.

Hamilton said on the radio he had been shown the chequered flag before beginning his final lap.

The classified results published by the FIA noted that the race was “declared at the end of lap 54, in accordance with Article 43.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations”.

The rule states: “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.”

The error means Jules Bianchi is classified 17th despite having been overtaken by Kamui Kobayashi at the end of the race.

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

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92 comments on Race result called two laps early due to flag error

  1. Sankalp Sharma (@sankalp88) said on 20th April 2014, 10:38

    Lol what? I had no clue that such a rule was in place!

  2. John H (@john-h) said on 20th April 2014, 10:38

    Some people probably very relieved Ricciardo didn’t pass Alonso right now!

    • Broom (@brum55) said on 20th April 2014, 10:41

      Red-Bull would have taken the FIA to court again!

      • Mayank (@mjf1fan) said on 20th April 2014, 10:47

        Lol and may be lost out again :D

        • RV (@zenren) said on 20th April 2014, 11:03

          Probably not this time. FIA clearly goofed up big time and they wouldn’t have been able to explain why they ended the race early. Caterham and Marussia could probably take FIA to task questioning the grounds of premature cancellation.

          FIA should consider themselves lucky this happened after the RBR appeal, else it would have been a black mark for them during the arguments with regard to the way they run the sport.

          • Breno (@austus) said on 21st April 2014, 2:26

            Uhm, irrelevant. The appeal was about Ricciardo consuming over 100kg/h of fuel, Red Bull not using FIA’s sensor, and Red Bull ignoring every instruction that came from FIA.

          • Kazihno (@kazinho) said on 21st April 2014, 11:28

            It has been a rule since racing began. It doesn’t matter WHY the signal was given early. If it waves, the race is over whether it is full distance or not.

            If the chequered flag doesn’t appear when the race distance is completed (think Pele in 2002) the race automatically finishes.

      • Andy (@turbof1) said on 20th April 2014, 11:08

        There’s no appeal possible against sporting decisions, as evident by the 2008 Spa debacle.

      • Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 20th April 2014, 12:36

        Imagine if they’d used 101 kg over all 56 laps…

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 20th April 2014, 14:36

        Hell yeah!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 20th April 2014, 13:39

      Indeed, exactly what I though too yeah, that would have been an almighty shambles @john-h!

      Overall the flag marshalls were as bad as the directing by FOM today.

  3. TMF (@tmf42) said on 20th April 2014, 10:39

    Were there any overtakes in the last 2 laps ? that would really be unfortunate to lose positions because someone else isn’t able to count.

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 20th April 2014, 10:39

      just read the last sentence – so question answered :)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2014, 10:42

      @tmf42 Actually I’ve jut updated the article as I hadn’t noticed Kobayashi’s pass on Bianchi is ‘undone’ by this.

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 20th April 2014, 10:44

        Seems pretty unfair to me. If a position “countback” at the end of the season means this result makes a difference, surely this can be challenged? After all, Lewis is the one who stood to lose out the most from this, and he was fine.

        • SJC (@sjc327) said on 20th April 2014, 11:03

          Why would Lewis stand to lose the most? He’s 1st with and without the 2 laps.

        • joebloggs said on 21st April 2014, 19:08

          Remember Brazil in 2003 when torrential rain caused havoc. Some laps before the scheduled end Webber spun and crashed heavily, ending up in the middle of the track. Alonso, ignoring waving double yellow flags was in a hurry to make a pitstop knowing the safety car would come out but ended up crashing into Webber’s wrecked car. The race was called several laps early because of the carnage and Fisichella in a Jordan was ultimately awarded the win courtesy of the countback rule, even though he was in second place at the time the race was called. Unluckiest driver was Coulthard who was on the right strategy and would have won the race, but was in the pits for his final stop on the lap that was counted back to, and was given 4th place.

          • Nase said on 22nd April 2014, 13:20

            Sorry to disagree, but Fisichella was not THAT lucky. In fact, he was leading the race after overtaking Räikkönen on lap 54, and he went on to lead until the red flag. So it was in fact unfair to initially demote him to 2nd place.
            @ Coulthard: He was indeed unlucky to pit a few laps before the red flag, but it is by no means clear he would have won the race. In fact, Fisichella was planning to finish the race without another pit stop. He did confess that his fuel load was critically low, and that he might have had to refuel before the race was over, but there was going to be a safety car after Webber’s Crash, which would have allowed him to save a significant amount of fuel.
            Even after all These years, I remain convinced that Fisichella’s win was a deserved – although quite lucky – one. He wasn’t just awarded the win because he happened to be at the right place at the right time. He simply overtook Räikkönen at a time when Coulthard had to lap at least 0.5 secs per laps faster than him to catch him before the regular end of the race. He might have won the race even without the red flag.

          • Erivaldo moreira (@erivaldonin) said on 25th April 2014, 0:51

            If this error happens in Brazil in 2008 Massa would have been champion

  4. malleshmagdum said on 20th April 2014, 10:39

    Surprising! Imagine if someone made a move in the points positions in those two laps! Would have been controversial!

    • OldIron said on 20th April 2014, 13:09

      Indeed, a lucky thing it was such a quiet race.

      Just wondering if the flag was intentionally shown – could it be the guy holding it nodded off and slumped forwards, making it visible?

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 20th April 2014, 21:24

      For me, it is pure idiotic rather than surprising.

      This is the FIA, right here. One guy makes a small error completely unrelated to the racing itself, and the last two laps (which are often some of the most important (thankfully not in this case)) are cancelled. It is utterly ridiculous. Really, this does the sport’s image no good.

      I cannot believe that such a rule regarding the flags exists now. I can understand ten or twenty years ago, but with the racing and technology today, these things simply shouldn’t happen like this.

      The marshalling and flag waving doesn’t help. I saw constant blue flags waved out of place this race, which Crofty also picked up on many times. It was utterly atrocious.

  5. Jake (@jleigh) said on 20th April 2014, 10:39

    Didn’t Kob get past Bianchi on the last lap?? So now Bianchi gets the place?

  6. Sam (@) said on 20th April 2014, 10:39

    Didn’t Kobayashi overtake a Marussia on the last lap?

  7. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 20th April 2014, 10:40

    I don’t understand. I thought the on-screen graphic showed 56/56.
    If the race had continued for two more laps though, would Alonso still be in third, would Hulkenburg still have been in sixth?

  8. pwaa (@pwaa) said on 20th April 2014, 10:40

    What about Kobayashi on Bianchi? Or was that before they took the flag?

  9. Loh JT said on 20th April 2014, 10:40

    so a flag bearer or whatever u call them can just end the race just like that?

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2014, 10:43

    This has happened before – I think the last time was the 1985 British Grand Prix at Silverstone when Alain Prost was declared the winner a lap early. There may be other examples.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 20th April 2014, 11:48

      I only remember Pelé waving the flag too late. Funny.

    • MJ (@mjf1) said on 20th April 2014, 18:42

      Keith do you know why the was shortened by 2 laps instead of 1? I know that it’s what it says in the regulations but to me it doesn’t seem logical. If they gave the checkered flag on the second last lap (lap 55) why would they classify the race based on lap 54? The only reason I can think of is just in case that a different car, other than the leading car, is shown the checkered flag?

      • Guest said on 21st April 2014, 14:43

        Because that rule also applies to a race finished early for safety reasons where the intention might be to have drivers stop racing each other immediately. Think about Fischecella’s win.

    • Peter Hunter (@holdenv8) said on 22nd April 2014, 8:17

      IIRC, at Silverstone in 1985, Jacques Laffite finished 3rd in his Ligier Renault, which then ran out of fuel after the flag on the lap that was meant to be the last. Nelson Piquet wasn’t a happy camper after this because he finished with enough fuel in his Brabham BMW and had the race gone the scheduled number of laps he would have finished 3rd because he would have passed Laffite’s out of fuel Ligier. First and second placed Alain Prost (McLaren) and Michele Alboreto (Ferrari) were unaffected by the officials error.

      As it was the Ligier was classified 3rd due to the lap count error and the Brabham was 4th. Not even Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone could have changed that.

  11. Shocking to think mistakes like this still occur in a tightly regulated sport such as F1. According to the commentators, there were a few blue flags given incorrectly to leading drivers.

    • OOliver said on 20th April 2014, 10:48

      I think those blue flags were mainly because they had lapped the back markers just before the next flag post.

    • vaffangool said on 20th April 2014, 12:26

      Because track position changes quickly in Formula 1, there is often not enough time to countermand a signalling instruction. Track officials are typically familiar enough with team liveries to discriminate between competitive- and uncompetitive entrants on sight, but the Chinese flagmen were unable to determine on their own that the overtake had already taken place.

      They weren’t signalling the wrong driver–they just didn’t know enough about the sport to make an autonomous decision.

      • vaffangool said on 20th April 2014, 12:49

        Of course, twenty years ago a more likely explanation would have been that they lived in deadly fear of the mere appearance of insubordination, so I guess they’re making progress.

  12. DavidS (@davids) said on 20th April 2014, 10:49

    Top quality marshalling today, including the many mistakes from blue flag guy just before the final corner showing his flag to two people actually fighting for position.

  13. nnavinraj (@nnavinraj) said on 20th April 2014, 10:49

    Incompetents all of them!

  14. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 20th April 2014, 10:52

    I can understand blue flags given to the wrong cars because you have temporary marshalls involved but the chequered flag!? Imaging Hamilton stuffed it in the wall on the last lap?

    • Sharon H (@sharoncom) said on 20th April 2014, 12:50

      In that case his blushes would have been saved…

      I don’t know what they do if they discover someone was short on fuel at the end of the race when they completed an ‘extra’ 2 laps plus the cool-down lap.

    • Russell (@russell) said on 20th April 2014, 17:02

      I don’t think it was just the marshall who got the blue flags wrong: he was acting under instruction and if you look at the replay you can see the electronic sign just beyond the corner flashing blue as well. These things have to be controlled by Charlie and his FIA team.

  15. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 20th April 2014, 11:09

    I was wondering why the post race FOM graphics showed that total distance as “299km”, typically it’s around 308km.

  16. tezza (@terro55) said on 20th April 2014, 11:11

    i’ve heard of premature ejaculation but premature flagulation that just ridiculous. lol

  17. OOliver said on 20th April 2014, 11:13

    Did they have a guest waving the flag?
    By the way, does F1 still use a start of final lap flag?

  18. Daniel said on 20th April 2014, 11:27

    Hypothetically, how would this work out in a situation where a car would not have the required litre of fuel at the end of 56 laps but would have had it at the end of 54?

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 20th April 2014, 12:31

      Haha, I doubt something like that is in the regulations ^^

    • vaffangool said on 20th April 2014, 14:45

      You’ve got it backwards. The race wasn’t extended by two laps–the official distance was retroactively reduced from 56 laps to 54.

      If anything, a driver would be more likely to preserve the required sample, as he could ostensibly have saved two laps’ worth of fuel.

      Technically, the entire field sees every flag at the same time via the on-board GPS marshalling system–but I question whether display indicated bungled chequers.

    • Dr. Jekyll (@dr-jekyll) said on 20th April 2014, 15:16

      Isn’t that just the rule for qualification… As I understand it (perhaps wrongly) you could set the car on fire if you wanted after the race distance was reached, because the race is over but after quali is still part of the GP

      • No, they give a fuel sample of I believe 900ml after qually AND the race. Remember Seb getting UN trouble for not returning the car back to parc-ferme after he did his doughnuts in India. The cars and drivers are weighed post race and fuel samples taken.

    • RV (@zenren) said on 20th April 2014, 17:14

      With 100 litres cap on fuel consumption during the race, the car can be disqualified from the results for using more fuel than the allowed limit. If the car didn’t have 101 litres in it at the start, it is team’s fault in ensuring that sufficient fuel was put into the car. If teams are required to give fuel sample at the end of the race, they have to give it or get excluded from results.

  19. Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 20th April 2014, 11:37

    So: it takes just a skillfull sneaking on to the pit wall by anyone with an hidden chequered flag to stop a race halfway through?

  20. dragon_2712 said on 20th April 2014, 12:46

    Call me crazy, but I just spent ten minutes coming up with different scenarios of sabotaging a race in your preferred drivers favour by finding ways to get on the pit wall with a chequered flag…disguises…parachuting in…self-ejecting flag hidden in javelin…possibilities are endless :D

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