In a Grand Prix a racer’s disqualification is a pretty rare occurrence. Marked by a black flag, accompanied by the car number, the black flag is a signal of the driver’s disqualification from the race, and an indicator that the driver must return to the pits, without completing the race.
For Formula 1 races, it is not common to see the black flag make an appearance. The stewards use it only in cases of an egregious violation of the race’s rules. The most common causes for these disqualificatio is result from illegal car changes or leaving the pit when the red warning lights are flashing. Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa fell victim to such a violation in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.
Overall, there have only been a bit over 10 black flags signaled during Formula 1 races. Lets take a look at the top 10 of these:
10- Jarno Trulli (Austria 2001)
Jarno Trulli had a good qualifying session. Driving the Jordan-Honda, he was set to start the race from fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, along with three other drivers, Trulli stalled at the start of this race on the grid, forcing the presence of a safety car in just the first lap of the race.
After making it to the pits, Trulli was ready to restart his session. However, he made an error in leaving the pit while the red lights were still flashing, and a black flag was signalled, taking him out of the race.
9- Juan Pablo Montoya (USA 2004)
When his first car choice, William BMW, failed to start at the beginning of the United States Grand Prix, the Columbian driver Juan Pablo Montoya was forced to return to the pits, and kick off his race in his spare car.
He made the best of a tough situation and soon was in contention for one of the top places on the grid. On lap 57 however, the race control stewards issued a black flag of disqualification for his vehicle, penalizing him for changing cars right before the race had started.
8- Ayrton Senna (Brazil 1988)
When a mechanical failure crippled his first choice vehicle at the onset of Brazillian Grand Prix, Senna was forced to use his spare car, starting from the pits.
Because he switched cars after the vehicles were green flagged at the end of the formation lap, he was dealt a black flag and removed from the race. This did not deter his success however, as he still went on to win his home country’s racing championship in 1988.
7- Juan Pablo Montoya (Canada 2005)
With a black flag to his record during the prior year, Montoya received his second black flag at the Canadian Grand Prix.
After having a good qualifier, and starting the race from fifth place while driving the McLaren, led the race for 49 laps, until he was forced to yield his teammate Kimi Raikkonen from the pit, which made him put on the following lap, ensuring the loss of his lead. Rushing out of the pit, Montoya errored in exiting while the red lights were flashing, and got black flagged on lap 52.
6- Elio de Angelis (Australia 1985)
Another racer with two black flags over their Grand Prix career is Elio de Angelis. His first was during the British Grand Prix in 1981 due to ignoring yellow flags during the race. His second, came at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix where, during the formation lap he overtook other cars for grid position inappropriately.
5- Alain Prost (Italy 1986)
After having an excellent qualifier, Prost was due to start in the second position behind Teo Fabi at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He was to follow Fabi only by 5 seconds, but mechanical issues caused him to start the race from the pits in a spare car.
Doing very well in the race, Prost was black flagged by the stewards after getting to the top 10 position due to the illegal car change.
4- Michael Schumacher (Britain 1994)
Driving for Benetton-Ford, Schumacher started the British Grand Prix from the front row alongside Damon Hill. After overtaking Hill twice during the formation lap, he received a stop-go penalty on lap 14, which he was the serve penalty time for on the 21st lap. He did not abide by the penalty and had to be waved in by black flags twice.
He refused to return to the pits after being black flagged, and went on to score second place in the race, only to then be announced as being disqualified at the podium.
3- Al Pease (Canada 1969)
During his last race in a Canadian Grand Prix, Pease was to the current day the only driver to be disqualified with a black flag for being too slow. Prior to the disqualification, he only finished 22 laps in the time that it took the other racers to finish 46.
2- Nisel Mansell (Portugal 1989)
Mansell started the Protugeise Grand Prix from the third position after a great qualifier. He tussled for first place, finally gaining the lead on the 34th lap, before he had to enter the pits for a tire change. He overshot his stopping point, and backed up to the correct spot, violating the rules.
Later in the race, this caused a black flag disqualifying him from the race. He did not comply and continued the race, having an intense battle with Ayrton Senna which resulted in a collision which caused early retirements and Mansell’s chance at winning or making the podium in the race.
1- Hans Heyer (Germany 1977)
With easily the most memorable flag in Formula 1 history, Hayer, who was a renowned touring car driver entering his first Formula 1 race to test his skills, failed to qualify for the race, but took a spot in the race anyhow, wish surprisingly no objections from the stewards.
His gearbox failed him, and he had to retire from the race early. After the race he was disqualified and received a DNQ, DNF and DSQ, all in a single race.