‘Oh s**t, it was a Red Bull’ – How Jeremy Clarkson declared Lance Stroll unofficial Bahrain GP winner

Oliver Harden
A two-way split image of Jeremy Clarkson looking sheepish and Lance Stroll looking confused

Jeremy Clarkson fears he may have accidentally made Lance Stroll the unofficial winner in Bahrain after missing flying Dutchman Max Verstappen

Celebrity F1 fan Jeremy Clarkson fears he accidentally crowned Lance Stroll the unofficial winner of the Bahrain GP after missing Max Verstappen during his chequered-flag waving cameo.

Clarkson had the honour of waving the chequered flag at the end of the F1 2024 season opener in Bahrain, where three-time World Champion Verstappen kicked off his latest title defence in dominant fashion.

Jeremy Clarkson revealed Bahrain GP flag confusion

Verstappen led Red Bull’s seventh one-two finish since the start of the 2023 season in Sakhir, with the Dutchman and team-mate Sergio Perez repeating the result in Saudi Arabia last weekend.

Former Top Gear presenter Clarkson was in attendance in Bahrain for the second consecutive season and, writing in his column for The Sun, revealed he was “extremely flattered” to be asked to wave the chequered flag ahead of footballer Neymar and comedian Kevin Hart.

But it didn’t go exactly to plan, with Clarkson convinced he actually waved the chequered flag for Aston Martin driver Stroll, having missed Verstappen while preparing for his big moment.

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He said: “I went to the Formula 1 race in Bahrain last weekend, and as it began I was approached by one of the organisers who wondered if I’d like to wave the chequered flag at the end.

“Given that Neymar and Kevin Hart were also in town, I was extremely flattered, so even though I’d had a few beers and maybe some wines as well, I decided to say ‘yes’.

“I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

“With a dozen laps to go, I set off from my viewing platform at one end of the pit straight to the little flag-waving box at the other.

“No big deal. Plenty of time. Which would have been true if I’d been able to walk in a straight line.

“Mercifully, I arrived in the pit lane, opposite the little flag box, as Max Verstappen began his final lap.

“I was a little out of breath but even I could cross a road in the time it takes a Formula 1 car to do a whole lap.

“And it was at this point that my equally merry girlfriend, Lisa, announced that she needed a wee.

“Right. I see. So we do what? Ask Max to park up at the back of the track until she’d finished?

“Even though he could have done that and still won, we decided not to chance it, hurried across the pit lane, plunged into the little box, took control of the flag. And waited for Max to appear round the last corner. Easy.

“But it was dark and in the time it takes to think, “Is that a Red Bull?” the car was past me and I’m thinking: “Oh s**t. It was a Red Bull.”

“So I was waving the flag as frantically as I could when I realised that it wasn’t a Red Bull.

“I’m told that officially, Max Verstappen won the race but the car that took the chequered flag?

“Well, I’ve checked the footage and I think it might have been Lance Stroll.”

Clarkson’s latest visit to Bahrain comes despite the 63-year-old claiming after the 2023 race that F1 is not suitable as a live event for on-site spectators and is better as a television sport.

Writing in his column for the Sunday Times, he said: “This is the problem with Formula 1 as a live event.”

“You have to be very lucky to see an incident, and even if you do it’s usually over in a flash and there are no slow-motion replays to help you understand what caused it.

“This, then, is a sport that has only ever really worked on television.”

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