Racing flags are an essential safety aspect on a track, here’s how they work

Flags Racing Safely

Car and bike racing have come a long way since the early days of both the World Drivers’ (1950) and World Riders’ Championship (1949). Safety is the most important aspect of a racing event, and it has improved exponentially in the last few decades. In this article, we will take a look at how each racing flag work and give you a brief introduction that could even serve you well if you go to a go-kart track with your friends or an open track for a bike event. 

Here we go:

The green flag is the easiest to understand since it means that the track is clear. It is waved at the start of a race and is also waved after a zone where there’s a yellow flag (indicating an accident or a hazard on track).

The yellow flag indicates drivers and riders that they have to slow down because there has been a crash or there’s debris on the racing course. It is also known as a caution flag. In terms of safety, it is arguably the most important flag since it prevents a worse situation in the event. While the yellow flag is asking drivers or riders to slow down, double yellows being waved mean that the racers must be ready to stop.

The red and yellow flag indicates to the racers that the track or part of it isn’t in the best conditions, due to oil, rain or something else. It indicates that the racers must be cautious. In bike racing, this often differs, as the white flag with a red cross means the same.

The red flag indicates that the session (practice, qualifying and race) is stopped due to a risky situation on the circuit. The event can be restarted afterwards or not, depending on several conditions, such as time left in practice and qualifying, or laps left or completes in the race.

The black flag is shown to a driver that must enter the pits. It is often associated with a penalty during a race, but it can also be prompted due to unsafe car conditions.

The black flag with an orange circle in the middle is shown to a driver or rider whose machine is unsafe to continue on the track, due to an oil leak or other issues like loose bodywork.

The black and white flag is like a yellow card in football. It shows a driver that a certain move on the circuit (against another car or cutting a corner) is not allowed anymore and any other infraction will result in a penalty.

The blue flag indicates a driver or rider to allow a faster machine is coming from behind. During a race, it’s shown to cars or bikes in the back that are being lapped, but the concept works the same in practice or qualifying.

The chequered flag is waved at the start/finish line after the final lap of the race to indicate a driver that the event is over. It is also waved in practice and qualifying.

In your opinion, what’s the most important flag in motor racing?

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