Standard race signals used around the world let drivers know of hazards on the course or the end of the race. The same flag signals are used for all events and are shown at observation points around the circuit. Drivers who disregard red or black flags could be disqualified. The following guide helps you recognise the signals, so whether you are a spectator, or watching the race on television, as soon as you see the flags, you will know what is happening in the race.

Blue Flag

The blue flag indicates "a competitor is about to overtake you", but if the flag is waved, it orders him to let the other car overtake, on pain of a time penalty for obstruction. This order is only given to a car which is one or more laps behind the overtaker. This flag is not used in motorcycle races.

Yellow Flag

The yellow flag indicates danger, and overtaking under yellow flag is always prohibited, and warns the driver that may have to stop. When the Safety Car is on the track all marshals will have the yellow flags waving and the start/finish straight marshal will show a "SC" sign.

Green Flag

The green flag indicates the end of the danger and of the ban on overtaking indicated by an earlier yellow flag.

Yellow Flag with Vertical Red Stripes

The flag with vertical red stripes warns the competitors that the track is slippery (usually oil or water) or that there is debris on the track.

Red Flag

The red flag is displayed by all track marshals when a race is to be stopped. This can be due to the track being blocked following an accident, conditions of the track deemed unsafe, or if some other emergency issue is evident, such as a driver fatally wounded. In Formula One, if 75% of the race has been completed the race can be ended, otherwise a restart may take place.

Black Flag

The black flag, accompanied by the number of a car, summons the driver of such car to return to his pit. This procedure is mostly used to notify a competitor of his exclusion from the race. The driver has 3 laps to acknowledge the black flag and if he does not come in within that time he may be heavily penalised and/or fined. This is also used to bring in a car for a stop/go penalty. A black flag with an orange disc (known as the "meatball flag") accompanied by the number of a car warns the driver that his car has a mechanical problem and that he must go to his pit. A flag with a white triangle and a black triangle accompanied by the number of a car is a warning for unsporting behaviour.

White Flag

A white flag is used to indicate that a slower vehicle is on the track. This may be a medical or safety vehicle. This is accompanied by a waved yellow flag in the area of the slower vehicle and normal yellow flags rules apply.

Chequered Flag

The chequered flag always signals the finish of the race.