The model caused chaos at the Canadian Grand Prix by waving the checkered flag too soon
Model Winnie Harlow wreaked havoc by waving the checkered flag a lap too early at the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix.
Many celebrities have had the honor of waving the checkered flag at the end of a race. David Beckham did the honors in Bahrain in 2019, while tennis star Serena Williams concluded the Monaco Grand Prix in 2021.
But none of these had the same impact as Jamaican-Canadian stunner Harlow, who wrote her name in the F1 history books with her appearance at the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix. Harlow, who is a friend of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, was given the prestigious role of ending the 70-lap race.
Unfortunately for the 27-year-old Victoria’s Secret model, the crossed lines of communication meant she was told to wave the checkered flag on lap 69 – one lap earlier than the scheduled finish.
Harlow duly took a look around the circuit and excitedly waved the black and white checkered flag as race leader Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line to set off on his final lap.
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It led to huge confusion for Ferrari ace Vettel, who told his bosses to ask for the flag to be dropped as he went about his business on his final trip to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Fortunately, Harlow pretty much remembered to produce the flag when Vettel came down the pit straight for the last time at the end of the next lap, confirming his victory.
However, F1 chiefs then sweat after recalling that Sporting Regulation 43.2 states that an early checkered flag means the final race standings must be taken from when it was driven. Luckily for everyone, especially Harlow, drama was rare on the final lap, with no overtaking on the final trip around the circuit.
“Some of the marshals were already celebrating,” Vettel said afterwards of the bizarre incident. “I was just worried that people wouldn’t jump on the track and start celebrating. We’re still going full throttle.”
In a later Instagram post, Harlow revealed that someone told him to wave the checkered flag at the end of lap 69, not lap 70, absolving him of any blame.
“WHEN THEY TELL YOU TO ACT THE FLAG ONE TURN TOO EARLY! You had a job sir!!! Hahaha, but so thankful that everyone was safe today and no one got hurt because of this,” she wrote.
The late FIA race director Charlie Whiting backed up Harlow’s claim, saying: “She got the order too soon. So it’s not her fault.” He [a local Montreal official] asked the race director if the race was on the last lap.
“But they understood it not as a question but as a statement and said ok. Wherever there are people there will be mistakes. We have different communication systems and different languages on each track.
F1 chief executive Ross Brawn also defended Harlow and hit out at social media trolls who slammed the stunning model in the aftermath of the Canadian Grand Prix.
“Supermodel Winnie Harlow was an innocent victim at the end of the race. He was asked to wave the checkered flag but was told to do so after 69 of the 70 laps had been completed,” he said. said Brawn.
“I was sad to see her so heavily criticized when, as race director Charlie Whiting explained, it was all down to a misunderstanding between two officials,” added Brawn.
“Winnie simply followed the instructions given to her and I would like to apologize for the grief she has suffered and thank her for supporting Formula 1.”
F1 organizers are hoping for a calmer conclusion to the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend.