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Alonso: Suzuka finish 'chaotic' as teams thought chequered flag was shown early

Some drivers were unaware the chequered flag had come out, prompting some confusion over whether the race had finished among teams.

Fernando Alonso says the finish at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix was 'chaotic' as several drivers kept racing at full speed because they didn't realise the chequered flag had been shown. Due to heavy rain interrupting the race there was only 28 laps completed, with the race being stopped after half a lap of action before restarting with 40 minutes left on the clock. F1 sporting regulations state: “Should two hours elapse before the scheduled race distance is completed, the leader will be shown the end-of-session signal when he crosses the control line (the Line) at the end of the lap following the lap during which the two (2) hour period ended, provided this does not result in the scheduled number of laps being exceeded.” Max Verstappen crossed the line with just seconds to go on Lap 28, but was shown the flag once that lap was completed instead of the following lap.

Early finish catches teams out

The early end appeared to catch some teams out, with Alonso saying that it was chaotic as some drivers were still racing at full speed. "Very chaotic for everyone, even the last lap we didn't know if it was the last lap or not. So I think it was difficult for everybody," Alonso told media. Alonso's teammate Esteban Ocon was among those still racing for position with Lewis Hamilton, after being told by the team that the chequered flag was shown on the timing screen. "Are you sure?" he asked over team radio. "He’s [Hamilton] is still pushing behind..." Ocon's engineer responded once he returned to the pits: "Yeah, so the confusion has happened because the flag came out a few seconds earlier than we think it should’ve done. So we did a lap less than we thought we were going to. Sorry for the confusion at the end." McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said the team instructed both of their drivers to continue racing, after seeing Max Verstappen continuing at full speed. He added: “The chequered flag was out at the right time. But we saw that Max [Verstappen] was still going flat out after crossing the chequered flag, so I’m not exactly sure what happened there. “For us it’s clear. We saw the chequered flag and if it’s out, then you respect it. But we saw that Max kept pushing, so we went on the safe side until we had clarity.”

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