The Canadian Grand Prix invited supermodel Winnie Harlow to wave the checkered flag and conclude the race on Sunday. There was just one problem: Race officials prompted her to end the race while the race leader, Sebastian Vettel, was nowhere in sight.
Harlow, a 23-year-old Canadian, signaled the race to end two laps early because of the gaffe, though it did not impact the results as Vettel still won.
Under article 43.2, the race result is to be taken from the lap prior to the checkered flag in the event it is waved prematurely. Vettel was the leader for every lap, including the 68th and winning lap, despite the Canadian GP typically being a 70-lap race.
The worry for racers when a checkered flag is waved early revolves mostly around safety, with some teams believing the race is finished, while other drivers continue driving full pace. Even further, fans could storm the track, under the impression the race is over.
“Fortunately I had a lap count in the car,” Vettel told The Pits following the race, “and the pit board was accurate. But if you lose radio and maybe the pit board is not there, then you back off. Then being in the lead, you hope all the others back off as well.
“I think it’s probably not a question for us. I was worried. I told them on the last lap so that people don’t jump on the track, waving flags and celebrating, because we’re still going at full pace. I don’t know what happened.”
To the model’s credit, Harlow was willing to joke about the incident following the race, which is held in Montreal, Quebec.