Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn has apologised to model Winnie Harlow and says she was an “innocent victim” from the Canadian GP flag controversy.
Harlow, a friend of Lewis Hamilton, waved the chequered flag a lap too early in Montreal but has since been cleared of blame, with FIA race director Charlie Whiting saying the mistake was a result of “simple miscommunication”.
Brawn said: “Supermodel Winnie Harlow was an innocent victim at the end of the race.
“She was asked to wave the chequered flag, but was told to do so after 69 of the 70 laps had been completed.”
The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, says it will review procedures after the error – which did not have an impact on the race result – but Brawn was not happy with the criticism the celebrity guest received on social media.
“I was sad to see her so heavily criticised when, as race director Charlie Whiting explained, it was all down to a misunderstanding between two officials,” added Brawn.
“Winnie simply followed the instructions she was given and I want to apologise for the grief she received and thank her for supporting Formula 1.”
Brawn said F1 want to open up the sport “to a new audience” and that they can achieve part of that process by bringing celebrities into the paddock.
“Something similar happened in China in 2014, but in that instance it wasn’t a celebrity waving the flag,” he explained.
“As the saying goes, ‘to err is human’ and all of us – drivers, managers, engineers, mechanics, journalists and fans – make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and try to prevent them happening again in the future.
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