Everything could have been avoided had Formula 1 used NASCAR’s green-and-white flag rule.
The 2021 Formula One World Championships went from a farce to a fight because, determined not to finish the race and decide the title behind the Safety Car, the race director made a controversial – and then declared illegal, though not so many words – invitation to allow only some cars to disassemble to restart the race.
Lewis Hamilton lost a record eighth world title, while for the first Max Verstappen it will always be rumored that it was given to him.
Planet Sport explains how NASCAR’s simple extension in two laps means that each race ends in an actual race.
The history of the green and white lady
NASCAR, however you feel about the ‘rubbing is a race’ series, will never face such a dilemma because it has a rule for overtime, green-white-lady.
Although for most of its history NASCAR races have only gone the advertised distance, in 2004 the sport decided to implement the overtime rule in all three of its divisions.
They did so in part after fans rebelled against the 2002 Pepsi 400, throwing beer bottles, seat cushions and just about anything they could get their hands on when the race ended in yellow.
With four laps to go, the race had its ninth tax day when Ryan Newman, Jeff Green and Dave Blaney knocked down a straight back.
NASCAR decided to end the race under caution with Michael Waltrip taking the win ahead of Rusty Wallace, and fans expressed their outrage – and it wasn’t even a manipulated result like the 201 F1 race in Abu Dhabi.
NASCAR then tried a red flag rule where the last red one could be at least five laps from the end, everything after that was cautious and the terrain was frozen.
But again the fans showed their frustration, this time at Aaron’s 499 in Talladega in 2004 where Jeff Gordon defeated Dale Earnhardt Jr. because of that caution. Bottles, chairs and rubbish were thrown on the track again.
This prompted another rethinking and the green-and-white framework was implemented in mid-2004 in all NASCAR series.
How does a green and white lady work?
Simply put, the green-and-white manhole refers to the flags in the race. Green means go, white means the last lap, and lady means the end.
If there is a warning at the end of the race, or even a red one, the race will always have two laps to finish – even if it means crossing the prescribed distance.
Drivers will be shown green for the penultimate lap and white for the last with the flag of the lady finishing the race.
However, if there is a collision in the circle with the green flag before the leader of the race reaches the line of extra time, he will return to another restart of the green and white ladies.
If a collision happens in the white circle, the race leaders – unless they are the ones colliding – are already ahead of it.
This means that no race ever ends under caution, or in F1 conditions under the Safety Car. There are no endings to the procession, the winner is the first driver to carry the checkered flag in race conditions.
And, more importantly in this Formula 1 lesson, there is no room for one man to make the wrong decision about the world title.