Flags are an important part of motorsport. Many people don’t understand why they are used or why they are so important. However, if you’re planning on racing karts, it is crucial that you understand what the different go-kart racing flags mean.
The 11 flags used in karting are:
- Green flag
- Single yellow flag
- Double yellow flag
- Red flag
- Vertical red and yellow striped flag
- Black and white flag
- Black flag
- Black flag with orange circle
- Blue flag
- White flag
- Checkered flag
Understanding each flag comes with time. However, it is important to understand all of them before you take part in your first karting race. Luckily, they are easy to remember, and we go through what each go-karting flag means below.
Why Are Flags Used In Karting?
Racetracks have rules and regulations that need to be followed by all of the drivers. Motorsport can be extremely dangerous, and if the rules are not followed someone can be seriously injured. The marshals are there to ensure that all rules are being followed and that the racetrack is safe.
To be able to do their job properly, they need to be able to communicate with the drivers. However, they have no form of communication in terms of a radio or hand signals. Radios are expensive and inconvenient, especially in karting.
Not Visible Enough
Hand signals on the other hand are not visible enough, especially when you are travelling at high speeds. So, brightly colored flags are used by marshals to convey messages across quickly and easily to the drivers.
For example, being able to tell a driver that they need to slow down because there is a danger on the track ahead of them is key for their safety. Having a bright yellow flag, waved by marshals at various parts of the circuit, is the easiest way to get this message across to all the drivers at the same time.
How Do You Know If A Flag Is Waved At You?
Sometimes flags are shown to specific drivers. These can include warning and disqualification flags. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint who the flag is being shown to, especially if you are in a group of karts.
If a flag is being shown to a specific driver, marshals will usually hold up a sign with the driver’s racing number on it. This gives a clear indication as to who the flag is being shown to and allows the driver to take the required action as fast as possible. But what do all of the different go-kart racing flags mean?
The 11 Flags Used In Karting
1. Green Flag
The green flag is what you would most like to see! It means that the track is clear, and you can drive at full speed. The green flag is usually used to start off a session by indicating that ‘the track is green’ and the session has started.
2. Single Yellow Flag
The yellow flag means that there has been an incident on a specific part of the circuit. It can also mean that there is a danger on the circuit ahead of you. You are required to slow down as soon as you see a yellow flag on track.
No overtaking is allowed during yellow flag conditions, so the race is essentially neutralized. Once you have passed the section of the track where the incident took place you will see a green flag which means you can resume racing.
3. Double Yellow Flag
Double yellow flags normally means that there is a danger on the track. However, they are more serious than the single yellow flags. Instead of one section of the circuit being under yellow flag conditions, double waved yellow flags means that the entire circuit is under yellow flag conditions.
This means that you have to slow your kart down and you aren’t allowed to overtake anywhere on the circuit until the green flag is shown. Full course yellows are normally shown when there is debris or a stricken kart that needs to be removed from the circuit. Slowing the karts down for the entirety of the lap give the marshals more time to clear the obstacle off the track.
4. Red Flag
The red flag means that the session is being stopped. This is usually when a serious accident has occurred, or the racetrack is deemed unsafe to continue racing. This could be in poor weather conditions for example. In karting, the red flag means that you immediately slow down to walking pace and drive your kart straight back to the pits to await further instructions from race control.
5. Vertical Red And Yellow Striped Flag
This is one of the flags that is not commonly used in karting. In fact, it is not often seen in any other motorsport either. However, there may be some circumstances where you will see it, and you have to know what it means.
This flag signals to the drivers that the track ahead is slippery. This can be due to oil on the track or some other slippery substance. The flag can also be used to indicate that there may be an animal, debris, or obstacle on the track ahead. In many cases the yellow flag will be used instead of this one.
6. Black And White Flag
This flag will have a diagonal line through it. The upper left part is black and the lower right part white. This is the warning flag. If this flag is shown to you, it means that you have broken the rules in some way. This can be anything from exceeding track limits to unsportsmanlike behavior.
In the majority of cases, you will be shown this flag three times before you are penalized or disqualified from the race depending on the severity of your actions. In some cases, your race number will be accompanied by this flag if you do not acknowledge that you have seen it.
7. Black Flag
The black flag means that you have been disqualified from the race and you must return to the pits immediately. If you don’t comply you will be shown the black flag again accompanied with your race number.
8. Black Flag With Orange Circle
The black flag with orange circle is not commonly seen in karting because there isn’t much of a use for it. It means that a part on your kart is causing a danger to yourself or the other karts around you. This is mostly down to your bumpers being loose or a loose exhaust.
However, since these are thoroughly checked by yourself and scrutineering, it is unlikely that you will ever see this flag, unless you sustain damage that wasn’t significant enough to make you pit right away. However, if you do see it, it means that you need to get your kart into the pits immediately. It essentially means that you have been disqualified for having an unsafe kart.
9. Blue Flag
The blue flag means that there is a faster kart approaching and you need to move out of the way. In karting it is mostly used in qualifying to signal to drivers that they might block another kart that is on a flying lap.
However, most karting races are far too short for the blue flag to be used during the race. If a blue flag is shown to you during the race, it means that the leaders are coming around to lap you and you need to give way to them.
10. White Flag
The white flag is used to show drivers that they are starting the final lap of the race. The white flag is not used in all karting events, but if you do see it, it simply means that the race is about to come to an end.
11. Checkered Flag
The checkered flag is used to signify the end of a session. It can be used at the end of practices, heats, qualifying or races.
Are Karting Flags The Same As In Other Motorsports?
The flags found in karting are the same as the ones found in many other forms of motorsport. In some cases, there can be different meanings attached to some flags depending on the racing series you are in.
For example, in NASCAR, the blue flag means that there is a slow vehicle on track and that you need to take caution. In some cases, they will also have additional flags with different meanings. However, the flags used in karting are the only ones that you need to know as a kart racer.
What’s The Easiest Way To Learn The 11 Go-Karting Flags?
The best way to learn what each flag means is to make it easy. Video games and racing simulators are a fun way to learn what each flag means while practicing your racing craft at the same time. This will help you to easily remember them. You can also learn about the flags by watching other forms of motorsport such as IndyCar or Formula 1, as they share a lot of the same flag uses.
Flags are extremely important in motorsport. They are the best form of communication between the marshals and the drivers, and they ensure that the rules are being followed and the racetrack is safe to use. There are 11 flags used in karting, and learning what they all mean is essential before you get out on the track for the first time.
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