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The Flag System is a method of using flag signals and semaphore to communicate to drivers in a racing series.[1] Each marshal post around a racing circuit used by FIA Formula E World Championship is equipped with a full set of flags, while circuits are lined with electronic boards that display the flag colours.[1]

Background

The original use of physical flags to communicate with drivers in motorsport is widely unknown, although using flags and semaphore to instruct drivers was quickly adopted in the 1900s.[1] Some flags, such as the chequered flag, have been in use since 1906, while others such as the VSC Board, were added to better instruct drivers and accommodate a wider set of scenarios.[1]

Flags

Outlined below is a full list of the flags used by the officials and marshals during an E-Prix meeting:

FIA Formula E World Championship Flags
Circuit Status Flags
Flag Name Meaning
Green Flag.png Green Flag Start/Restart of the session
End of a section of circuit under yellow flag conditions
Yellow Flag.png Yellow Flag Hazard on/near the circuit
Double yellow flags denote that a driver must slow down and be prepared to stop.
Virtual Safety Car Flag.png VSC Indicates that a Virtual Safety Car/Full Course Yellow has been deployed.
Red Flag.png Red Flag The session has been suspended.
Slippery Surface Flag.png Surface Flag Debris or fluid on the circuit.
Chequered Flag.png Chequered Flag End of the session.
Driver Instruction Flags
Flag Name Meaning
Black Flag.png Black Flag Driver has been disqualified and must return to the pits.
Warning Flag.png Warning Flag The Stewards have recognised unsportsman like conduct from a competitor.
Mechanical Flag.png Mechanical Warning Flag Driver must return to the pitlane for repairs or to retire their car due to damage.
White Flag.png White Flag Slow moving vehicle ahead.
Blue Flag.png Blue Flag Faster cars approaching.

Green Flag

The green flag is shown at the start of a session, and will either be twinned with the starting lights or the national flag being waved to signal the start of an E-Prix.[1] Green flags are also displayed after an incident that is being covered by yellow or double-waved yellow flag to indicate that a driver can return to racing speeds.[1] A green flag is also displayed after a Safety Car or Full Course Yellow period has ended.[1]

Yellow Flag

A yellow flag is displayed by a marshal post when there is an incident that a driver must make note of further along the circuit.[1] Under FIA rules, a single waved yellow flag indicates that there is an issue on the circuit itself, while a stationary yellow denotes that the issue is off the side of the circuit.[1] Drivers must demonstrate that they have reduced their pace in the section of circuit covered by yellow flags when they are deployed, and cannot overtake until they have got past the incident.[1]

Double waved yellow flags are used to inform drivers that there is a more serious issue on the circuit that may partially block the circuit or obstructs the racing line.[1] Furthermore, double yellows indicate that marshals and course vehicles may be near the circuit, meaning drivers should reduce their pace and be prepared to stop if required.[1]

VSC/Full Course Yellow Board

An incident covered under double yellow flags may instead be escalated to a Full Course Yellow/Virtual Safety Car, or a full Safety Car, if the incident requires marshals or course vehicles to enter the circuit.[1] In the first instance the entire circuit is covered by yellow flags, meaning drivers cannot overtake and must match a specific lap time delta, meaning gaps are maintained between cars.[1] Under full Safety Car conditions drivers are instructed to line-up behind the safety car, and follow the SC around until the incident has been cleared.[1]

Red Flag

Red flags may be deployed if an incident cannot safely be covered under VSC or SC conditions, or would take a long time to clear and make the circuit safe again.[1] In that instance the drivers are instructed to enter the pitlane and queue in the pits, with teams then allowed to work on the cars if permitted by the FIA.[1] Furthermore, the race time is stopped the moment the red flag is deployed, with the order of the field restored to how it had been the lap before the red flag was shown.[1]

Procedure

An E-Prix may either be restarted or ended after a red flag period, depending on the timing of the red flag in relation to the race time.[1] There are various permutations with regards to what happens if a race is suspended and ultimately stopped by a red flag at different times during the race:

  • Laps 1 - 2 - The race is considered to have been abandoned and no points are awarded.
  • <75% of the race time/distance - Half points awarded to drivers.
  • >75% race time/distance - Full points awarded.

In the latter two scenarios, the final results are based on the order of the field as they completed the lap prior to the red flag.[1] Should a race be restarted after a red flag period, then the field will be restored to how they had completed the last lap before the red flag, before restarting in that order behind the Safety Car.[1]

Surface Flag

A surface flag denotes that there is a change in the track conditions beyond a certain marshals post, most commonly due to water or debris on the race surface.[1] The flag is typically displayed until each driver has gone through the zone twice, before the conditions are deemed to be part of overall circuit.[1]

Chequered Flag

Denotes the end of the session or E-Prix, and is both waved and shown on the electronic boards to inform drivers that they have completed the race.[1] The flag is only displayed at the marshals post at the timing line by race control.[1]

Black Flag

A black flag, which is shown alongside a board with the car number, is displayed to a driver that has breached a regulation in either the sporting or technical rulebooks.[1] The noted driver is effectively disqualified from the race, and must drive their car into the pitlane, stop, and exit their car.[1] A driver who has been disqualified is not permitted to rejoin the race, and will have a variable number of penalty points applied to their race licence depending on the severity of the incident(s) that resulted in their disqualification.[1]

Warning Flag

A black and white flag split diagonally is shown to a driver as a warning, most frequently for unsportsman like conduct or for exceeding track limits on multiple occasions.[1] The flag denotes a final warning to the driver (as indicated by a number displayed alongside the flag) that they will either receive a penalty or be disqualified from the race if they continue to race in the same manner.[1]

Mechanical Flag

A black flag with an orange disk is displayed to a driver if there is something visibly wrong with their car, most frequently because they have loose bodywork that could become detached from their car.[1] A driver who is shown the mechanical flag is to drive into the pitlane and have their car either repaired, or retire their car completely if the issue cannot be fixed.[1]

White Flag

A white flag is displayed to drivers to show that there is a slow moving vehicle, either another competitor's car or a course vehicle, ahead.[1]

Blue Flag

A stationary blue flag is shown to a driver to indicate that faster cars are approaching from behind, while a waved blue flag informs a slower car that the faster car is about to overtake.[1] In the FE Championship the driver shown the blue flag must make an effort to get out of the way of the faster cars behind, and will be allowed to pass three marshals posts waving blue flags in order to do so.[1] Failure to let faster cars pass after passing three waved blue flags will result in a penalty.[1]

Blue flags are only shown to cars that are being put a lap down by the car behind, and hence are not displayed during battles for position.[1]

References

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