Chequered Flag

Yellow flags, blue flags, black flags, black flags with orange circles in them, what do they all mean? Well they aren't national flags for sure, but what do they stand for if not for the pride of Mozambique or Liechtenstein?

Depending on their colour, flags in Formula One world can mean a lot of things. Race marshals armed with an array of these colourful flags stand alongside Formula One circuits all around the world wave different kinds of flags in order to signal any given driver, or the lot of them at once, of many things like penalties, hazards on track and what not.

So if you've been wondering just what these flags mean, I've listed them all here for your understanding. Enjoy!

Yellow Flag

Yellow flag

The most common flag waved about in Formula One, a single yellow flag waved by the race marshal instructs the driver to take caution as there is debris from a crash ahead. Drivers must slow their cars down at sections where the yellows are being waved and overtaking is strictly prohibited, unless of course the driver ahead is retiring out of the race.

A double yellow flag waved by the same race marshal warns drivers of great danger ahead. Once again, overtaking is not allowed unless it is completely unavoidable. A safety car is usually deployed at this time.

Green Flag


Green flags waved usually follow a yellow flagged area, because green flags indicate that the track is clear of any previous dangers and drivers may resume at racing speeds and overtake as they wish.

If and when a race director allows, green flags may also be waved during parade laps after a race. Green flags are also used to signal the beginning of sessions such as free practice or qualifying. However, race starts deploy an electric lighting system to signal the start of the race.

Red Flag


Red flags simply signal the suspension of a race, practice or qualifying session. If and when the Race Director sees fit, race marshals will wave red flags all around the circuit signaling for drivers to suspend all actions.

Drivers in the pits may not leave the pits and drivers on the track may not return to the pits. Drivers on the circuit must proceed with caution to the designated red flag line and stop their vehicles. If however the safety car is deployed in this time, drivers on track may follow the safety car back into the pits.

Sessions may be resumed or abandoned as the race director deems fit from this moment on. Under red flag instances, any driver who breaks the rules will have a drive-through penalty imposed upon them.

Blue Flag


Get out of the way! You're holding up traffic! If you find yourself being shown the blue flag mid race, well that just means that you're at the back of the field, the top runners are trying to get past you and that you should be letting them through. If you've ignored three of these flags, you can expect to be subjected to a penalty, which may vary from a drive through penalty, or a 10 second stop-go.

Blue flags are also used in practice session and qualifying sessions to instruct slow moving drivers to move off the racing line and let cars at racing speeds go by.

White Flag


A white flag simply warns drivers that there is a slow car on track ahead. Possibly a retiring car, an ambulance, or a tow truck trying to carry away a stalled car on the grid, drivers are instructed to slow down massively at this point to avoid a collision.

Black Flag


The waving of a black flag is usually to instruct a specific driver to return to the pits immediately and report to the Clerk of the Course, usually because they've been disqualified from the race. The black flag is accompanied by a board with the car number of the driver that is being called in.

Chequered Flag


Possibly the most well known flag and the most welcomed flag by drivers, the black and white chequered flag signals the end of the race, practice session, or qualifying session. The winner of the race is always the first to see the flag, followed by everyone else that follows behind him or her.

Half Black shirt

Half Black

Unsporting behavior is usually the reason for race marshals to wave this flag. If a driver's driving is deemed dangerous by the race directors, he or she will be instructed to either cool it down on the circuit. If however they continue in the same manner without regard for safety, they'll be immediately disqualified.

Black with orange circle

Black with orange circle

Possibly the oddest flag of the bunch, a black flag with an orange circle is waved to inform drivers that their car has a mechanical problem with the potential to harm themselves or other drivers on the circuit. The driver on the receiving end of this flag must return to the pit and have the problem sorted out before returning to action again.

Yellow with red stripes flag

Yellow with red stripes

The next most oddest flag of the bunch is a yellow on with red stripes that run down the middle. This warns drivers of a danger up ahead such as a slippery surface or debris, possibly left behind by a car leaking oil on the track's surface, or that there is rain starting to fall on the track. Drivers must reduce their speed and be wary of a slippery or dangerous surface ahead.

Source: MSN Sport