The rules on defensive driving in F1 have been reinforced ahead of the new season.
Drivers have been reminder they are required to lave room for another car when moving back towards the racing line.
FIA race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting has explained the FIA’s clarification of the rules:
“This isn’t really a new overtaking rule,” he said. “Rather we’ve put into the regulations what was an unwritten rule.
“A driver can make one move only to defend a position – but when that driver then moves back onto the racing line to take a corner it can be construed as a second move, which is not allowed. It’s a matter of deciding to what degree resuming the original line is acceptable.
“We don’t want to get into silly arguments about centimetres so we’ve decided the defending driver must leave at least one car width on the racing line otherwise he will be judged to have made a second move and penalised accordingly. We need to have drivers giving each other space on the track – otherwise we risk dangerous collisions.”
The FIA has also moved to speed up the decision-making process when it comes to issuing penalties:
“In the past stewards might see something suspect and alert the race director,” said Whiting. “He would look at the incident and request the stewards investigate. It was a process that consumed a lot of time.”
The stewards now have the power to investigating incidents without reporting them to the race director: “If they identify something worth investigating, there’s nothing wrong with them taking a look and then giving the race director an opinion. It should make the process less cumbersome.”
A further change in the rules will prevent drivers going off the track in practice and qualifying to save time: “We’ve seen drivers taking shortcuts on in and out laps, either to save time or fuel.
“We could put up barriers to stop them exploiting short cuts but it usually looks stupid! The rules say the drivers should use the track. If they don’t, they will need to justify their actions.
“It also follows that safety will be improved as other drivers are more likely to know that a car has left the track for a good reason.”
The rule allowing lapped cars to pass the safety car has been revived this year, having last been used between 2007 and 2009. Whiting explained why it has been brought back: “We took this rule away because it was difficult to manage and potentially dangerous.
“We have reinstated it with new safeguards. Drivers will only be allowed to overtake once they have all passed the pit entry twice, this will allow all drivers to pit if they want to.
“We will also instruct the lead drivers to stay on the racing line once the order is given to allow cars to overtake. They will be allowed to weave again, to get heat into their tyres, when we inform them it is safe to do so.”
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