During the course of a Grand Prix flags and warning lights are used to advise and warn the riders, providing them with critical information about the race.
The flags are displayed by marshals at various points around the circuit and riders must always be aware of the messages which the marshals are displaying to them. Flags can be shown waved or motionless, and this can alter the meaning of the instructions the respective marshal is giving.
Ignoring flag instructions can result in the following punishments for the riders depending on the seriousness of the infringement: warning, fine, ride through (see the Key Rules section for more information), change of race position (see yellow flag rules below), time penalty, disqualification, withdrawal of Championship points, suspension or exclusion.
Disqualification. Displayed motionless at each flag marshal post together with the rider's number, the black flag means the rider must stop at the pits at the end of the current lap and cannot restart. This flag will be presented only after the rider's team has been notified.
Black Flag with Orange Disc
This flag informs the rider that his motorcycle has mechanical problems, which are likely to endanger himself or others, and that he must immediately leave the track.
Waved at the flag marshal post during the race, this flag indicates that the riders are allowed to change machine. The Race Direction indicates through the white flag that the track is wet enough to justify the change of bikes and the Grand Prix becomes a wet race, having originally been declared a ‘dry race’ at the start. See the Key Rules section for details of instances of the enforcing of this rule.
White Flag with diagonal Red Cross and Yellow & Red Striped Flag
Rain on this section of the track (shown together, motionless at the flag marshal post) - this combination of flags simply advises the rider that the track is wet.
Shown waved at the flag marshal post, this flag indicates to a rider that he is about to be overtaken and he must allow the rider(s) following him to pass him at the earliest opportunity. During the practice sessions, the rider concerned must keep his line and slow down gradually to allow the faster rider to pass him. During the race, the rider concerned is about to be lapped. Also, this flag is shown to a rider leaving the pit lane if traffic is approaching on the track.
Chequered Black & White Flag
This flag should be waved at the finish line on track level to indicate the finish of race or practice session. The race winner is the first rider to see this flag as he crosses the line.
Shown waved at each row of the starting grid, this flag indicates that the start of the race is delayed. Shown waved at the flag marshal post, this flag indicates that there is a danger ahead. The riders must slow down and be prepared to stop. Overtaking is forbidden up until the point where the green flag is shown.
Any Infringement of this rule during a practice session will result in the cancellation of the time of the lap during which the infraction occurred. In case of infringement of this rule during the race, the rider must go back the number of positions decided by the Race Direction.
During the final inspection lap, this flag must be waved at the exact place where the flag marshal will be positioned during the practices, warm-ups and races.
Red Flag and Red Lights
When the race or practice is being interrupted, the red flag will be waved at each flag marshal post and the red lights around the track will be switched on. Riders must return slowly to the pits. When the pit-lane exit is closed, this flag will be shown motionless at the pit-lane exit and the light will be switched on. Riders are not allowed to exit the pit lane.
Race Start. The red lights will be switched on at the start line for between 2 and 5 seconds to start each race. ‘The lights go out’ is therefore a favourite phrase for commentators to indicate that a race has started.
At the end of each practice session and warm-up, a red light will be switched on at the finish line.
This light must be switched on at the pit lane exit to signal the start of each practice session and of the warm-up, the start of the sighting laps and of the warm up lap.
The track is clear. This flag must be shown motionless at each flag marshal post for the first lap of each practice session and of the warm up, for the sighting lap(s) and for the warm up lap. This flag must be waved by the starter to signal the start of the warm up lap. When the pit-lane exit is open, this flag must be waved at the pit-lane exit.
This flag must also be shown motionless at the flag marshal post immediately after the incident that necessitated the use of one or more yellow flags.