FIA clarifies rules on defensive driving

2012 F1 rules

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Monza, 2011

The Schumacher-Hamilton battle at Monza led to a rules clarification

The FIA has published the 2012 F1 sporting rules which includes an explanation of how drivers may defend their positions.

This was a matter of considerable debate in 2011 following an exchange between Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton during the Italian Grand Prix.

Article 20.3 of the 2012 FIA Sporting Regulations says: “More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off??line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

This does not appear to constitute a change in practice – the rule is consistent with how defensive driving has been policed in recent years. However as it is now written in the sporting regulations there is less room for ambiguity.

The 2012 rules contain other changes announced earlier, including the revival of the rule allowing lapped cars to be waved past the safety car, and a four-hour time limit on race suspensions.

Teams also face new restrictions on what cars they may use in testing. A rewritten clause states: “Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an event undertaken by a competitor entered in the championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula 1 Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year, with the exception of promotional events carried out using tyres provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier.”

There is also a proviso for teams to be allocated an extra set of option tyres in practice if it is deemed necessary – the previous rule applied only to the prime compound.

Another new rule states that if a part is removed from a car while it is being worked on in parc ferme, it must be reattached before the car leaves the pits. In China last year Lewis Hamilton left the pits prior to the start of the race with part of his engine cover missing as the team conducted last-minute repairs to his car.

You can find the updated sporting and technical rules in full on the FIA website.

2012 F1 rules


Browse all 2012 F1 rules articles

Advert | Go Ad-free

144 comments on FIA clarifies rules on defensive driving

  1. cmckinleyF1 (@cmckinleyf1) said on 4th January 2012, 23:19

    People are interpreting this new rule incorrectly. Drivers will still be able to have a good and fair fight, it’s just the FIA putting the etiquette for wheel to wheel racing down in black and white

    A driver can still hold the middle/inside line into the braking zone, have his opponent outside of him and potentially hold his position

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th January 2012, 11:16

      @cmckinleyF1 Exactly.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th January 2012, 11:28

      Indeed, it does not change anything for the drivers, save putting to paper what they all knew to be the rule already. Taking away possible doubts about it really being there.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th January 2012, 14:12

        MS didn’t know it when he held back LH in a way that we know was unfair, otherwise he wouldn’t have had to be reminded during those laps. So MS either didn’t know the unwritten rule, or was allowed to get away with it until reminded. Should be interesting to see now if writing the rule will change his behaviour or if he will simply try to get it away with it again and hope for reminders. I guess if the claim is that writing this rule doesn’t change anything, then expect MS to do this again. Great. I’m sure LH can take comfort now in knowing he will be raced fairly.

        • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 5th January 2012, 17:09

          MS knew, just like they all know about not cutting chicanes to keep cars behind them, but they push it knowing that they will be ‘warned’ before they actually get punished by the stewards.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th January 2012, 20:45

            Exactly. Schumacher would be the first amongst the drivers to know about the rules and the limits they might be stretched to, its one of those things he probably does look at in his preparation.

  2. Jon (@astroturf777) said on 4th January 2012, 23:39

    ‘following an exchange between michael schumacher and lewis hamilton…’

    I hate the ‘reactionary’ decision making of fia. The fight between the two was one of the great moments of the season. Finally seeing a driver who doesnt yield to hamilton’s ‘move or i will hit you’ style was great, the fia want to remove all personality from f1. Everything is about making it easier for the ‘faster cars’ to get past the slower ones. Why help them? If they qualify bad, or stuff up the start, make them fight their way back through.

    • Days of Thunder said on 5th January 2012, 2:24

      +2

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th January 2012, 11:13

      @astroturf777 Schumacher was told at the time he had to leave room for Hamilton when returning to the racing line, so having a rule that requires drivers to do it in future doesn’t really make a difference.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th January 2012, 14:17

        Missing the point I think…if MS had to be told, and if the FIA let that happen ie. commit a crime until you are reminded not to, then the unwritten rule obviously was not very rock solid, so if writing the rule makes no difference then I guess we can expect more arbitrary enforcement of the rule and we can expect that MS will once again behave unfairly and break a written (from here on in) rule and only be reminded not to do it, not be reprimanded for it. So should all drivers expect now that they can break written rules and only get reminders for it?

        • Jon (@astroturf777) said on 5th January 2012, 20:11

          Which then brings the ‘interpretation of the rule’ into focus… And with different stewards each weekend it will be all over the place. If they want finnicky rules, they should use the same stewards and enforce the same way all season. That is fair to the drivers.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th January 2012, 20:53

            Are you sure that having just a single set of stewards rule in the sport would be the best thing?

            Makes it easier to bribe them, have consitently biased rulings etc. That’s the reason judges are often chosen by a random system, to ensure they rule fairly and without prejudice.

  3. maxthecat said on 5th January 2012, 0:46

    Great more rules! Just let them race for gods sake.

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 5th January 2012, 2:37

    For any racing driver it will be tough under racing condition where there are millions of things going on while defending to go out there & measure that one car width on the outside of the corner!. We may see many busy time for the race Steward come Sunday.

  5. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 5th January 2012, 3:13

    How would the dynamics of this rule work in practice? I mean, for example. Aometimes there is still some track, or kerbing, outside the white lines. Do you leave a car’s width on your outside between you and the line, or is the kerbing and extra tarmac included? AFAIK the white lines denote the circuit

  6. Stewart (@douglst) said on 5th January 2012, 10:33

    I did not have much of an issue with MS at Monza I thought it was in the hard but fair category, with the exception of one of the moves at the lesmos. Having just looked at link here. http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watch?v=p3AGhntqzjU

    Under the rules as they are now written would the incident heading to Ascari at around the 45 sec mark now get a penalty as he moved all the way back and did not leave a car width? If so I think that is ok as not moving all the way back would compromise the exit out of the corner and leave him exposed down the next straight. Take the point that all corners are different but if that is what they are trying to stamp out I am fine with that.

    Keith what I can’t agree on is your support for the LH penalty at Mal 2011 in this link. http://m.youtube.com/indexdesktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watchv=EW0q_dlNJ6A

    Coming down the straight moving towards the racing line LH checks and moves a little towards the inside line but then drifts back to the outside but this is halfway down the straight near the grid markings and nowhere near the braking point or approaching the corner. When they get near the braking point he again moves to the inside and then moves ever so slightly back to the racing line but leaves easily a car width on the outside look at it at around the 21 sec mark. I just can’t see how that is a penalty at all under either the old unwritten rules or the new written ones, for me that was a terrible decision and certainly no worse than MS at Ascari discussed above. Can you talk me through that?

    Apologies if link does not show search youtube for Michael Schumacher vs Lewis Hamilton 2011 Monza it is 2 min 33 sec and Alonso VS Hamilton GP Malasia 2011 it is 3min 29 sec

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th January 2012, 11:09

      @douglst The rule described in this article doesn’t really relate to Hamilton’s penalty in Malaysia.

      Your video links are giving errors so I don’t know exactly what footage you’re referring to.

      I’ve just watched my copy of the race and on lap 45 you can clearly see Hamilton move away from the racing line, move back towards it, and then move away from it again in the braking zone while racing Alonso.

      He clearly moves away from the racing line twice, therefore it’s indisputably a penalty.

      He also did it with Petrov in 2010 on lap eight, but that time it was comically blatant! He got a reprimand, but he didn’t learn.

      • Stewart (@douglst) said on 5th January 2012, 11:35

        Keith yes it is lap 45 going into turn 1, for me in the braking zone LH moves a couple of feet to the inside then about half that back easily leaving more than a cars width on the outside which is the racing line. I just don’t see that as a pen there was no contact and alo did not have to change what he was doing to avoid it and it is no where near as excessive as MS at Ascari which brings up the whole consistent debate which is another argument……

        Would love to be able to argue this one with you in more detail in another medium than a blog but this is at least better than nothing.

        Thanks for the reply tried another cut and paste here http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watch?v=EW0q_dlNJ6A

        Or search for F1 Malaysia – 2011 Hamilton Alonso incident Bbc forum video poste 11 April 2011 by F1 Arab

  7. antonyob (@antonyob) said on 5th January 2012, 11:17

    i think what MS did was cut across the bows of Lewis, thats why he was told to stop it, he wasnt blocking as much as moving across Lewis forcing Lewis to back off or hit MS. What the rule change says is you cant return to the racing line..even if there is room to do so.

    • hobo (@hobo) said on 5th January 2012, 13:46

      Not correct, at least not from my reading.

      “Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

      Clearly, by the text of the rule, a driver can move back to the racing line.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th January 2012, 14:24

        “Clearly, by the text of the rule, a driver can move back to the racing line.”

        Ummm…if you take only the first part of the rule, and remove the word ‘towards’ I guess you are right. But the word ‘towards’ is there, and I think still leaves all kinds of ambiguity in spite of now being written.

        So I don’t see how you can argue a driver can move back to the racing line when it doesn’t really say that and you have just chosen to reword it on your own. Where does the ‘one car width between his own car and the edge of the track’ come in to play for you, or do you just ignore that part?

        • Andy (@turbof1) said on 5th January 2012, 14:48

          I can’t say there is ambiguity. “Any driver moving back towards the racing line” is simply pointing to the action in progress that a driver is going/making a move back to the line. I think it’s even a better use, b/c if it would be “moving to the line” you might argue in some cases that they didn’t intend to go back to the raceline, but made a move directing to there (don’t know how that is resitricted in wording). Moving towards the line is broader and thus leaves less room for discussiion. Anyhow, the sentence does not imply moving back to the line is forbidden.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th January 2012, 15:51

            I think there is a big difference between moving TO the racing line, which implies to me no need for leaving a car width of space and just go ahead a take the apex, and moving TOWARD the racing line, which implies to me just that, moving toward it while leaving a car width of space.

            I think the sentence DOES imply that moving back TO the line is forbidden when you consider that the rest of the rule talks of a car width of space.

          • Andy (@turbof1) said on 5th January 2012, 16:15

            I’m certain that it is not implying that; after all nothing changes for the drivers with this rule. It’s just a conversion from unwritten to written. Based on precedent actions it’s not forbidden.

        • hobo (@hobo) said on 5th January 2012, 16:09

          Using only the text of the rule as given, it may preclude a driver from moving all the way back to the racing line in some cases, but not all.

          I may have made an assumption (which I still hold) that, “any driver moving back towards the racing line…” means that a driver may move back to the racing line. My assumption was, however, a general one. I think it is extremely likely that there will be instances where given the circumstances (the turn, the surrounding track, the driving line, other drivers) that a driver—following the rule—won’t be able to rejoin the racing line entirely.

          I cannot see, however, where the rule states that, “you cant return to the racing line..even if there is room to do so.” I think we both made our points without spelling them out completely, hence this.

          I can see how you came to your conclusion, though I disagree with it. I hope that the stewards do not interpret the rule as you lay it out, rather than they take into consideration the circumstances; e.g. if the car behind is in no position to pass, retaking the line should be (in my opinion) allowable to the lead driver regardless of whether or not it leaves a car’s width. Of course that becomes tricky to decipher when a pass is possible or not, but the FIA put themselves in this mess, they have to deal with it.

          Fingers crossed that it does not ruin too many races.

  8. Days of Thunder said on 5th January 2012, 15:35

    It depends how you see it how you like, to me that’s one of great defence and praise by many as well. At Monza it could be said that Lewis the one that Lewis attempted desperate attack but overall both show spectacular drive that day i bet many stand on their chair over that exciting laps. And in the past many has done similiar thing even harsher, to me in Monza fair just in the line. And as i pointed out i dnt really agree that too much school boy rule by FIA that robbed too much real racing such as this kind of one move rule, if waving too much side to side that dangerous but Schumacher-Hamilton i don’t close to that

  9. its seems you can do what you like on the first lap but not the rest of the race. for me thats the wrong way round. if their is going to be a huge accident its going to be caused by people pointlessly weaving at the start.

    weaving when their is only 2 cars involved would usually be pretty harmless. but when their is 20 cars it then gets out of control. but if it cuts down on FIA paper work then im sure its ok…..

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.