24 Hours of Le Mans: Flags, safety procedures and penalties explained

24 Hours of Le Mans: Flags, safety procedures and penalties explained

With help from the marshals stationed around the track, Race Control ensures the race is fun safely by communicating with drivers via coloured flags. Breach of safety rules gives rise to penalties.


Green Flag

Indicates that the track is clear for racing. Waved at the start, after the Tricolore and also to restart after a neutralisation or suspension.

Yellow Flag

Requires drivers to slow down and watch out for a hazard on the track.

Red Flag

The red flag is waved upon instruction from Race Control. The race is stopped due to an accident or adverse weather conditions that render racing dangerous. A red flag is accompanied by flashing lights around the track. During a practice or qualifying session, drivers are required to return to the pits at 80 kph. During the race, they must slow down and return to the red flag line. They may get out of their cars but remain close to them. No intervention on the vehicle is permitted.

Yellow/Red flag

Commonly known as the “oil flag”, this flag indicates a problem with or change in the surface ahead, such as oil or water on the track.

Blue flag

Indicates to the driver that there is a quicker car following and that he/she should let it pass.

Black flag with an orange circle

Displayed with a pit board showing the car number, this flag informs the driver that his/her vehicle is damaged and may be a danger. The driver must return to the pit.

Black and White flag

Displayed with the car number, this is a warning to a driver for unsporting behaviour. Several warnings may lead to disqualification.

Black flag

Displayed with the car number, this means that the driver is disqualified and must return to the pits

Chequered flag

Indicates the end of the race, waved when the time is up, as the finish line is crossed.


Slow zone

To enable marshals to clear the track, Race Control may decide to neutralise a portion of the circuit by imposing a slow zone in which speed must not exceed 80 kph. There are several slow zone sections at Le Mans. When a slow zone is imposed, marshals wave the yellow flag and an orange board marked “slow zone” and an 80 speed limit sign. Drivers must slow down and keep at a safe distance of two car lengths behind the preceding car. Overtaking is not permitted.

Full Course Yellow

Race Control may decide to implement the Full Course Yellow procedure for a certain length of time. Marshals present the yellow flag with the FCY panel. Speed is limited to 80 kph and drivers must maintain distances between them. Overtaking is not permitted.

Safety Car

A safety car procedure may be imposed following an incident. Three cars with flashing orange lights enter the track at different points. Drivers must line up behind them and are not permitted to overtake. Cars may return to the pits during this procedure.



The driver must enter the pit lane and exit without stopping.

Stop and go

The driver must enter the pit lane, stop in front of his/her box and then exit.

Time penalty in the pit lane

The driver must enter the pit lane, and stop in front of his/her box for the time indicated.

PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES DU MANS, WEDNESDAY 13 JUNE 2018. A marshal waves a blue flag to indicate that the driver must let the car behind overtake.

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