Chequered flag mix-up can’t stop Hamilton

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton

For the first time in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One career he has now taken the chequered flag for three consecutive races, even though the one in China caused confusion by being waved prematurely.

At the end of lap 55 of the 56-lap Chinese Grand Prix, a dominant Hamilton was shown the sport’s traditional emblem as he crossed the line, and for a second he allowed himself to pause.

If the race had been as close as it was a fortnight ago when he beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by exactly one second, such a lift off the gas could have proven extremely costly.

On this occasion, with an 18-second cushion to Rosberg, there was no cause for consternation, only a red face for the embarrassed flag bearer, understood to be mortified.

Hamilton was quickly told by his team to complete the last lap, so taking the flag for a second time around 100 seconds later.

From his perspective inside the cockpit of his so far mercurial Mercedes, Hamilton said: “That was very strange!

“I thought: ‘am I seeing things?’ As I crossed the line expecting to do another lap, I looked up for a split second and I saw the flag. I lifted for a second, but I saw there was no-one on the wall (of the Mercedes pit who would be there to greet his win).

“I asked the team (whether the race had finished) and they said no, so I just kept going. Very, very strange.

“If I’d thought about slowing and the radio had failed, and then Nico came by, then that would have really sucked. Thank God it didn’t.”