Formula 1 sporting chief Ross Brawn has apologised to supermodel Winnie Harlow, adding she was an “innocent victim” of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix chequered flag error. 

Harlow, a friend of Lewis Hamilton, was invited to wave the chequered flag at the end of the race, but a miscommunication led to it being shown a lap early. While it did not change the result of the race, it meant Daniel Ricciardo missed out on the fastest lap to Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen

The mix-up resulted in a backlash of criticism towards Harlow, though F1 race director  Charlie Whiting insisted she was not to blame for the gaff and confirmed the FIA will look into the end of the race signal procedure.

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“Winnie Harlow was an innocent victim at the end of the race, when she was asked to wave the chequered flag, but was told to do so after 69 of the 70 laps had been completed,” Brawn explained. 

“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.”

Brawn said F1 is keen to open up the sport to “a new audience” and believes that process involves bringing more celebrities into the paddock. 

“Something similar happened in China in 2014, but in that instance it wasn’t a celebrity waving the flag,” he explained. “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.”

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