Flags – what do they mean?

There are a number of flags held by marshals around a track during a race weekend. Each flag communicates an essential message to the drivers. But what do they all mean?

Chequered flag: Indicates to the drivers that the session has ended. During practice and qualifying, it is waved at an allocated time. During the race, it is shown firstly to the winner, and then to every car that subsequently crosses the finish line.

Yellow flag: This flag indicates danger ahead. A single waved yellow flag means that drivers should slow down. Two yellow flags waved by the same marshal means that the drivers must slow down and should be prepared to stop if need be. Overtaking is prohibited in the area that the yellow flags are waving.

Green flag: This flag gives the all clear. It indicates that the driver has passed the potential danger and all yellow flag prohibitions have been lifted.

Red flag: This flag indicates that the session has been stopped. This is usually due to poor track conditions or an accident.

Blue flag: This flag warns a driver that they are about to be overtaken and that they must let the faster car through. If a driver passes three blue flags without yielding, the driver risks being penalised.

Yellow and red stripey flag: This flag warns that the track surface may be slippery, usually because of spilt water or oil.

Black and orange stripey flag: This flag will be shown alongside a car number. This means that the car has a mechanical problem and the driver must proceed to the pits.

Half black, half white flag:

This flag will be shown alongside a car number. It indicates that the driver has displayed unsportsmanlike behaviour. This will be followed by a black flag if the driver does not take notice of the warning.

Black flag: This flag will be shown alongside a car number. It indicates the driver should return to the pits, usually because they have been excluded from the race.

White flag: This flag indicates a slow moving vehicle on the track ahead.

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