F1 Managing Director Ross Brawn issued an apology on F1’s behalf to Winnie Harlow. Due to an unfortunate error, the model waved the chequered flag a lap too early. Fortunately, all the drivers were aware that the race was still on due to their pit board and radios.
According to FIA race director Charlie Whiting, Harlow waved the flag when she was told to do so. He further explained that the instruction was given on the wrong lap due to a miscommunication.
But that didn’t matter to irate fans as Harlow was mercilessly criticised. F1 fans pinned the blame on her for the error.
Jumping to her defence, Brawn described Harlow as “an innocent victim” of a mix-up at the end of the race.
“She was asked to wave the chequered flag, but was told to do so after 69 of the 70 laps had been completed,” said Brawn.
“I was sad to see her so heavily criticised when, as race director Charlie Whiting explained, it was all down to a misunderstanding between two officials. Winnie simply followed the instructions she was given and I want to apologise for the grief she received and thank her for supporting Formula 1.
“Something similar happened in China in 2014, but in that instance it wasn’t a celebrity waving the flag. As the saying goes, ‘to err is human’ and all of us – drivers, managers, engineers, mechanics, journalists and fans – make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and try to prevent them happening again in the future.”
Fortunately, as mentioned before, there was no harm done as every driver had the presence of mind to continue racing.
The only damage done was that Daniel Ricciardo lost his chance to set the fastest lap of the race. In comparison, the rest of the race, with the exception of the first lap was fairly bland.