Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 should return to using only the traditional checkered flag to signal the end of a race rather than rely on an electronic system as the one that failed at Suzuka.
A timing error at the end of last Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix displayed the checkered flag on the light panel at the finish line on the penultimate lap of the 53-lap race.
The premature end to the race confused teams and drivers and prompted an inquiry by the FIA.
F1 implemented the electronic timing system after last year's Canadian Grand Prix, when super model Winnie Harlow was entrusted with waving the checkered flag but was advised to do so two laps earlier than scheduled!
But after Sunday's gaffe, Vettel believes F1 should rely only on the manual wave of the symbolic checkered flag rather than both systems as is currently the case.
"I don’t know what happened, obviously someone was a bit eager and went a bit early. So I wasn’t the only one today that was eager and pushed and went a bit early," joked the Ferrari driver, referring to his jump-start earlier in the day.
"I think from a driver’s point of view it’s very clear that there was no checkered flag," he added.
"We have a pit board giving us the race information on the laps, we can see on the dashboard as well how many laps are still to go.
"I still saw there was a lap to go, and I got the call by radio that it is the last lap.
"Obviously there was a confusion at the pit wall because I think it was more the timing that set the checkered flag, not the actual checkered flag on the track.
"We had an issue in Canada one year where the checkered flag came too early and now as I understand it the timing is more is the decisive one," Vettel said.
"Whereas I think it should still be the checkered flag as well. So if you get one of the two wrong, it doesn’t matter which one. I think for us drivers it matters that if we see the checkered flag the race shouldn’t continue."
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said the Scuderia's pitwall was also caught off-guard by the glitch. In doubt, the team ordered its driver to continue their charge.
"I think when you’ve got the checkered flag, we told the drivers to continue pushing, they were pushing and it didn’t affect at least what we were doing," commented Binotto.
"Something to review on the sporting side with the FIA on how to improve in the future."