Formula 1 Flag Types

Formula 1 Flag Types

During the 2023 Formula 1 season, 23 races will take place around the world. At each of these, drivers aim to be the first to see the checkered flag as they compete for podium appearances and the Formula 1 World Championship. Although the checkered flag is instantly recognizable in Formula 1, FIA race officials implement a ten-flag system that maintains order and control during race day. Read on to learn about each of these flags and their corresponding meaning.

Types of Formula 1 Flags

Here are the different flags used in F1:

  • Checkered Flag
  • Red Flag
  • Green Flag
  • Yellow Flag
  • Blue Flag
  • White Flag
  • Black Flag
  • Black and Orange Flag
  • Black and White Flag
  • Yellow and Red Flag

Checkered Flag

The checkered flag is waved to signify the end of any session, which includes race day, qualifying, and practice.

For a Formula 1 driver, being the first to see the checkered flag is a coveted honor and a driver’s main goal at each event. Overall, Lewis Hamilton is the winningest driver in Formula 1 history with 103 Grand Prix victories. As a result, Hamilton has been the first to see the checkered flag on the most occasions on race day in Formula 1!

Red Flag

When a red flag is shown during a Formula 1 event, the session is immediately suspended due to unsafe racing conditions (weather, crash, etc.).

If a red flag is shown during a qualifying or practice session, drivers are required to reduce their speed and return to the pit lane. However, when a red flag is shown during race day, drivers return to the pit lane and prepare for a restart in the same racing order that existed prior to the flag’s appearance.

During the 2022 Formula 1 season, three red flags were shown (Monaco Grand Prix, British Grand Prix, and Japanese Grand Prix), and the race was restarted on all three occasions.

Green Flag

A green flag indicates that drivers can resume typical racing conditions during race day. Following the usage of a safety car or a yellow flag that creates a period of caution, this flag conveys clear track conditions and allows drivers to reimplement passing maneuvers and strategy. 

During qualifying and practice sessions, the green flag is also used to signify the start of a session.

Yellow Flag

If a single yellow flag is waved during a Formula 1 event, drivers must reduce their speed and are prevented from passing maneuvers due to off-the-track danger.

On the other hand, if two yellow flags are waved, drivers must significantly reduce their speed, be prepared to stop, and avoid overtaking due to danger on the track. 

Blue Flag

When a driver is preparing to lap another competitor, a blue flag signals the slower driver to allow the faster driver to pass. If the slower driver ignores three blue flags during a race, a penalty will be issued.

Additionally, a blue flag can be shown at the end of the pit lane to alert drivers of impending traffic on the track prior to resuming the race.

White Flag

A white flag is utilized to warn drivers that a car is moving slowly in front of them. During races with tight and frequent turns, it is challenging for drivers to adjust quickly to slow-moving cars or medical vehicles at immediate notice.

While this flag is intended to alert drivers about slow-moving vehicles during race day, it is also influential during practice sessions where drivers simulate their starting position and launch strategy on the grid.

Black Flag

When a black flag is shown, a driver is immediately disqualified from the race and must return to the pit lane. If this is shown, it is also accompanied by the number of the driver who is disqualified. 

To warrant a black flag, drivers can be penalized for excessively dangerous and unsafe driving,  disobeying the commands of race stewards, or driving a damaged car. 

While infrequent, this flag was last displayed at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, where Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa left the pit lane during a red light, hence violating pit lane rules.

Black and Orange Flag

A black flag with an orange circle indicates that a car is damaged or possesses a significant mechanical problem. In this situation, the flag is accompanied by the driver’s number, who must return to the pit lane. 

Black and White Flag

A black and white flag indicates a warning to a driver for unsportsmanlike behavior. Similar to a black or black and orange flag, this is also accompanied by the number of the infringing driver. After this one-time warning, race stewards will consider issuing a time penalty to the corresponding driver for continued infringement. 

Yellow and Red Flag

Rather than waving this flag in the air, a yellow and red flag is held still to indicate a change in track conditions. This flag is utilized as a warning for drivers to prepare for slippery track conditions, such as rain or oil, that challenge each driver’s grip and control.