Formula One's Ross Brawn has issued an apology to Winnie Harlow, the model who mistakenly waved the checkered flag prematurely during the Canadian Grand Prix, and has pleaded with fans not to place blame on her for the gaff, saying she was an "innocent victim".
The race in Montreal on Sunday turned into a sea of confusion when the flag went up one lap too early, with many drivers questioning what was going on over the team radio, and Daniel Ricciardo even being stripped of the fastest lap record after the final lap was expunged.
Harlow received most of the blame in the immediate aftermath, but reports surfaced that it was actually an error by race stewards. Brawn has assured fans that the model did nothing she wasn't told to.
"Supermodel Winnie Harlow was an innocent victim at the end of the race," said the Liberty Media boss.
"She was asked to wave the chequered flag, but was told to do so after 69 of the 70 laps had been completed. 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.
"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."
The incident initially called into question whether celebrities should be allowed to wave the checkered flag, but Brawn pointed to an incident from China a few years ago which did not involve anyone famous, saying that it happened regardless of who had the flag.
"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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