Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 should use a traditional chequered flag rather than an electronic system to avoid a repeat of the error that occurred during the Japanese Grand Prix.

A system glitch resulted in Sunday’s race at Suzuka being called a lap earlier than the scheduled 53 laps, resulting in confusion for teams and drivers alike. The FIA has subsequently launched an investigation into what went wrong.

F1 does wave a chequered flag at the end of grands prix alongside its light panel system, but Vettel said he had struggled to spot the electronic version in Japan.

“I think from a driver’s point of view it’s very clear that there was no chequered flag,” he explained.

“We have a pit board giving us the race information on the laps, we can see on the dashboard as well how many laps are still to go. I still saw there was a lap to go, and I got the call by radio that it is the last lap.

“Obviously there was a confusion at the pit wall because I think it was more the timing that set the chequered flag, not the actual chequered flag on the track.”

The electronic flag system was introduced after confusion at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, where the chequered flag was waved too soon by model Winnie Harlow.

“We had an issue in Canada one year where the chequered flag came too early and now as I understand it the timing is more is the decisive one,” Vettel said.

“Whereas I think it should still be the chequered flag as well. So if you get one of the two wrong, it doesn’t matter which one. I think for us drivers it matters that if we see the chequered flag the race shouldn’t continue.

“I don’t know what happened, obviously someone was a bit eager and went a bit early. So I wasn’t the only one today that was eager and pushed and went a bit early.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto added: “I think when you’ve got the chequered flag, we told the drivers to continue pushing, they were pushing and it didn’t affect at least what we were doing.

“Something to review on the sporting side with the FIA on how to improve in the future.”

 

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