To a new fan, the number of flags in F1 is completely mind boggling. Here’s a simple explanation of every flag for you to refer to. Some are rarely seen, while others are completely essential to remember in order to understand the races.
Hazard or danger ahead and overtaking is prohibited. A single yellow flag means drivers must slow down, while a double waved flag means a driver must be prepared to stop at any moment.
The race is stopped, usually because of a serious collision, bad weather or poor track conditions.
Any hazard or issue has been cleared up and the drivers can resume racing at full speed.
Shown to a slower car to indicate that a faster car is behind them and must be able to overtake them. The driver must allow the faster car to overtake within 3 blue flags or they will be penalised.
The session/race has finished. The flag is waved when the race leader crosses the line for the last time or at the end of a practice or qualifying session to tell the drivers to stop.
Black and White Flag
Shown to a car to indicate unsportsmanlike behaviour. It is a warning for a driver that they must improve their behaviour or they will be removed from the race (black flag).
A driver must return to the pits immediately and is disqualified from the race. Occurs when a driver has broken the rules and has ignored the warnings so they cannot continue.
Indicates a slow-moving car ahead, for example a service vehicle or a safety car. Also shown at the end of practice sessions when drivers are performing practice starts.
Black Flag with Orange Circle
Shown to a driver/car that has a serious mechanical issue and must return to the pit lane immediately and retire from the race.
Yellow and Red Striped Flag
Indicates track deterioration due to debris or fluid (e.g oil, water or other lubricants) that the drivers must be careful of as the track is slippery.