With many new spectators to the ever-growing sport of Formula 1, we are compiling some of the best information that might not be common knowledge and will surely make things more straightforward when watching the race. This blog will dive deep into the role of the marshals and what the flags mean. For example, we will talk about what it means to hear double-waved yellows or a black and white flag shown to a driver on the track.
Join us in this series of blogs where we explain all aspects of the Formula 1 world and shed some insights for you, the reader. If you love what you are reading on LV BET Sports Blog, we invite you to explore our other blogs on the subject further.
The role of the marshals
Marshals are the eyes and feet for the race directors to report back to them and alert them about an on-track hazard. Marshals are the team wearing high vis vests that jump on the track to clear up some debris from a crash or the team that helps drivers out of their cars and call in help to move retired cars with caution in order to clear up the track for the race to continue. Without the work of marshals, safety on the tracks cannot be assured, so we owe it to these courageous people who put themselves in harm’s way.
There are different teams within the department of marshals who specialise in, for example, fire. The season-ender at the Bahrain International circuit. Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean crashed into the guardrails after turn three at more than 192 km/h (with a peak force of 67G- which practically means 67 times his body weight, OUCH!) The car suffered extensive damage, split in half, and engulfed in flames almost instantaneously. Most fans, including myself, had our hearts in our mouths- concerned for the Frenchman stuck in the inferno.
But within seconds, two men rushed to the spot, trying to extinguish the fire and get Grosjean out of his car. After a long 15 seconds, they were able to help him out of the fire and out of danger, with minor burns to his hands and a sprained foot. Those men are what makes the sport safer – The Marshals.
Let’s talk flags
The circuit is divided into three sectors, those that we focus on during qualifying to see if they turn Green or Purple. Marshals are stationed in each part of these sectors to keep an eye out for any danger, so they can signal to the drivers what is ahead. So let’s kick things off:
The Green flag is waved at the back of the grid just before the starting sequence starts every race day. This signals that everything is as it should be, and it’s good to go racing. A green flag is a sign that you can push as hard as possible, as there is nothing that might put the driver or anyone else in danger. This flag tells the driver that the track is clear as communication cannot be just in the bad but also in the good. So this is the flag that marshals use to say that all is good to the drivers, simple, right?
This is one of the options for the yellow flag, a single flag being waved is a caution that a danger is present on the track and that the drivers should slow down. This also means that drivers should reduce their pace and prepare themselves should they be needed to change direction.
Double Waved Flag
Double waved yellow flags is more serious situation as there is a stopped car or high levels of debris. This also means that cars should slow down and be ready to stop and in the case that these flags are waved during a qualifying session, the drivers should abandon the lap, should they not the time set will not count.
We commonly hear drivers shouting over the radio, ‘’Blue flags, Blue flags!’’, which means that a car behind you is trying to overtake you and is faster than you. This is generally the case during qualifying; there are cars on their out-lap and cars coming through traffic on their hot lap. You will see a stream of Blue flags being waved by the marshals informing the driver that fast cars are approaching. Another instance is during a race, when the lead driver,for example, is lapping backmarker cars so in that case, the slower cars are asked to move to one side of the track, off the racing line so that the faster car can continue their race at their speed. Blue flags is another instance when the marshals can wave the flag without getting confirmation from race control or the race director.
This is the flag that follows the double-waved yellow in certain situations, as the race director might elect to stop the race and call all the drivers into the pits. The marshals cannot wave this particular flag; they need to get the go-ahead from the race director first before they can wave it. This is shown whenever a huge crash, such as the Lance Stroll crash in Monza, had damaged the barriers, so marshals had to repair them before resumption of the race or green flag conditions.
Black and Orange Flag
This is generally known as the meatball flag with the orange ball at the centre. This is usually shown together with the number of the car to signal that the car should come into the pits due to a damaged car. An example when this is used is when a car has a front end plate hanging, and the marshals ask the driver to go into the pits to get this fixed as this could be a danger to the other drivers.
This is the flag shown to those drivers who have fallen short of the black and orange flag or other indiscretions. The black flag is rarely shown, but when it’s shown, the driver needs to pull to the side, as he is disqualified from the race. This is also the flag shown to drivers who do not do a pit stop during a dry race.
Red and Yellow Flag
This is a flag that signals to the drivers that something is on track; this can be track grip being lower than usual. This is shown when certain parts of the track are slippery or there is debris on the track or oil, you will see this red and yellow flag is shown to warn the drivers. So whenever you see this flag, it’s a warning sign to the drivers that in the coming corners, you might encounter a lower level of grip. This is the only flag that is not waved, it remains unmoved. You might even see this flag whenever an animal is on the track, like in Singapore when a Lizard managed to get onto the track.
This means that there is a very slow car on the track, a reliability issue or a front wing missing might have caused the car to move very slowly so the marshals wave this flag to warn the drivers to slow down to almost safety car speed as there is a car crawling on the track. This is normally shown to drivers who are on a hot lap and drivers in front of them are moving very slowly as they are trying to warm up their tyers for their own flying lap.
This is the flag that is waved by various celebrities over the years to signal the end of the race. This flag is shown in every session during the weekend to signal the end of the session. This is the prestigious flag that many drivers have taken after an amazing race.
*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing