FIA issues new clarification on defensive driving

2012 F1 season

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Montreal, 2012FIA race director Charlie Whiting has given drivers further guidance on the limits they must respect when defending their position.

The document, seen by F1 Fanatic, puts in writing several points discussed with drivers on the Friday of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

In it Whiting states that: “Any driver defending his position on a straight and before any braking area, may use the full width of the track during his first move provided no significant portion of the car attempting to pass is alongside his” (emphasis as in original document).

“Whilst defending in this way the driver may not leave the track without justifiable reason.”

Whiting goes on to define the term “significant portion”, stating that this applies if the car attempting to pass gets any part of its front wing alongside the rear wheels of the car in front.

The rules on defensive driving were previously clarified during the off-season. The previously accepted convention that a driver must leave room for a rival when returning to the racing line between braking zones was codified in Article 20.3 of the Sporting Regulations.

The document also addresses cases where it is not clear whether a driver has gained an advantage by going off the track. Whiting states: “we feel the stewards should be encouraged to use their discretion in cases where it is not entirely clear whether or not a driver has gained any direct or immediate advantage”.

This relates to article 20.2 of the Sporting Regulations which includes this stipulation: “Should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any advantage.”

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64 comments on FIA issues new clarification on defensive driving

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2012, 20:22

    So, should we see this as the result of driver discussion after Rosberg’s driving in Bahrain?

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th July 2012, 20:39

      I wondered that too when it states using the whole width of the track is allowed…I never thought NR did anything wrong since it was his one move, and since LH and FA on the two different occasions never had ANY part of their car(s) beside NR’s rear wheel let alone a ‘significant portion.’ And NR didn’t leave the track but LH and FA both did in trying to pass him.

      What I also wondered from this is if PM returned to the track at a ‘safe’ time when he took out LH a few races back with a few laps to go.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 12th July 2012, 20:51

      Yes, it is.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th July 2012, 20:56

        Just remembered…PM did get a 20 sec penalty for hitting LH in Valencia, so I guess there’s some consistancy with regards to this article.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th July 2012, 21:06

          Although on second thought I wonder if in fact they aren’t thinking of NR’s move necessarily, since it was a very short straight between a left and a right in that incident, but since they are highlighting ‘on a straight and before any braking area’ perhaps this has come up due to DRS passing which is on a straight and often sees a driver in need of defending before the braking zone.

    • Racehound said on 14th July 2012, 12:19

      …Absolutely!”!!! You are spot on with that 1 for sure. #:)

  2. toogood2tell said on 12th July 2012, 20:28

    The document, seen by F1 Fanatic, puts in writing several points discussed with drivers on the Friday of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

    If these points were discussed with drivers on the Friday of Canadian GP weekend, I wonder why

    a) certain driver kept pushing another driver whose car was already nose ahead of his going into the braking zone in Valencia GP?
    b) why certain driver was reprimanded while he held on to his racing line, and left ample space to another driver who tried to pass him on the outside in British GP?

    If indeed these rules were reviewed with all the drivers on Friday of Canadian GP weekend, why is certain Mexican driver bad mouthing a competitor, when it was he who had bungled in not able to make a clean pass, and who should have aborted move, once he was not meeting the

    “car attempting to pass gets any part of its front wing alongside the rear wheels of the car in front.”

    criteria as they entered the braking zone during the British GP?

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 12th July 2012, 20:36

      He bad-mouthed because he made no mistake in his attempt and gave ample room to the car inside. The driver on the inside lost control of his car and though it was not intentional, I think it’s reasonable be unhappy that they failed to keep control at a crucial moment. Especially considering the inside driver’s past history.

      • de Hooch said on 13th July 2012, 1:35

        There is a certain skill involved in a controlled “loss of control” which results in the other party coming off worse. I would be surprised to learn that P.M. has that skill, but I wouldn’t bet against it with good money.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2012, 21:13

      If you would say who you’re actually referring to instead of “certain driver” it would be a lot easier to work out what you’re point is.

    • SatchelCharge (@satchelcharge) said on 13th July 2012, 0:14

      I bet “a” is Maldonado :P

  3. Nixon (@nixon) said on 12th July 2012, 20:38

    I dislike this update. What if a driver is hoping to pass or get alongside the other driver by out-braking on the outside.

  4. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 12th July 2012, 21:19

    “Any driver defending his position on a straight and before any braking area, may use the full width of the track

    Charlie, can I have a clarification on what to do if I’m defending through a complex of corners (Becketts, Maggots, Chapel, for example), or if there is no braking area because the corner is flat-out (130R, for example), or if the straight isn’t perfectly straight (Interlagos)?

    What has changed through the decades that means drivers need these clarifications? Is it a lack of respect between them, is the racing too complicated/high-paced, or is the sport so unsporting that every lost place is objected to on the grounds of a rule infringement?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th July 2012, 8:55

      @splittimes

      is the sport so unsporting

      Having clear rules is essential for a sport. Those competing and spectating need to know where the boundaries lie.

      Clarity in the rules and how they are enforced is always to be welcomed. I don’t think it reflects badly on the drivers at all.

      • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 13th July 2012, 9:26

        @keithcollantine

        I’m not sure its the drivers either, but teams’ legal departments. The cynic in me is waiting for the day someone asks for a clarification on what is meant by ‘racing line’, leading to a lane being painted on the track defined as such. Ok, ok, maybe that’s being over-cynical. But clarifications like these can’t help but feed cynics like me. We love them!

  5. Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher) said on 12th July 2012, 21:39

    Saw the headline, so sick of how defensive driving regulations are so often changed and talked about. Can’t be bothered reading the article because whatever clarification is offered will later have to be clarified again. Fact is interpretation of the breach of defensive driving regulations is subjective. There will be times when it’s blatantly obvious, such as schumi/barrichello at Hungary. Other times not so much such as Rosburg at Bahrain. Also the conditions will influence it, Rosburg more or less did the same thing as schumi, pushing a driver beyond the limits of the track, difference there was a wall barrichello had a wall to crash into. However if u look objectively they are the same thing, just pushing a driver off the track.
    So anyway my point is, it is useless to clarify a regulation, that can’t (maybe ‘can’t’ is the wrong word, ‘wont’ would be more appropriate) really be enforced objectively.

    • chiliz said on 13th July 2012, 0:40

      Very very well put and I couldn’t agree more

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th July 2012, 9:07

      @mike-the-bike-schumacher

      if u look objectively they are the same thing, just pushing a driver off the track.

      No they weren’t.

      From the moment he got onto the straight Rosberg began moving to the right to stop Alonso going down the inside. From the moment he got out of the previous corner it was clear his intention was to cover the inside line.

      Whereas Schumacher moved into the middle of the track, waited for Barrichello to choose a side, and then tried to squeeze him off the track (in this case, into a wall).

      That much was clear even before the latest rules clarification. The clarification makes the distinction between the two unequivocally clear.

      • Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher) said on 13th July 2012, 17:30

        @keithcollantine Ouch keith that hurt!
        Maybe my memory of the Rosberg incident isn’t as clear as yours, I was also referring to when he pushed Hamilton off, but maybe that’s similar to alonso, anyway i was just trying to take another example of a driver squeezing somone offtrack, which does happen often enough.

    • jimscreechy (@) said on 13th July 2012, 10:24

      Hear hear, Very well said and very well put. Totally agree.

  6. What about offensive driving where drivers use the their vehicles as weapons when they are in a temper?

  7. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 12th July 2012, 22:12

    All these rules must be encouraged with some technology. Some people complain why there’s not a sensor used in soccer balls, so when the sensor crosses the line it’s a score. That technology already exists and I think it’s being tested in some soccer matches, right?
    And because F1 is so-ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, why don’t cars have a sensor(s) in some “critical” parts, such as front wing or sides, so a couple of telemetry calculations would determine 99.9% if a car is within the “significant portion” of the other.

    • nathhulal said on 12th July 2012, 22:31

      Black and white – nothing left to fight
      when its grey – Gives the asses to Bray.

      Organized sports will always leave the door open for heated discussions, making heroes and villains out of fallible humans. Why kill the golden egg laying hen?

      Ever heard of heated discussion after a Chess encounter? No coz the rules of the board are pretty watertight.

      So then all the fans are left with, is to argue off board things like what player was doing toilet breaks and how the player’s coaches were giving hints to colored cheese, nothing related to actual moves on the board.

      • Kimi4WDC said on 13th July 2012, 2:47

        Same applies to racing results, now days there are much fewer grey areas to gain/loose an advantage this results “task execution” type racing we have today.

      • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 13th July 2012, 7:42

        Do you say that chess would be better with childish, heated arguments and players flipping their chessboards in anger? Would poker be better if a judge could suddenly decide that three of a kind is better than a straight?

        So then all the fans are left with, is to argue off board things like what player was doing toilet breaks and how the player’s coaches were giving hints to colored cheese, nothing related to actual moves on the board.

        Is that what chess fans do? They don’t discuss strategy and the things that happen on the board at all?

  8. James_mc (@james_mc) said on 12th July 2012, 23:18

    Interestingly enough my interpretation of the rules as set out above actually absolve Maldonado of blame to a certain extent in Valencia as Hamilton contravened them.

    Although subsequent ramming by Maldo perhaps outweighs this…

    • SatchelCharge (@satchelcharge) said on 13th July 2012, 0:18

      If by “perhaps” you mean “definitely,” then yes.

    • Ben C-M said on 13th July 2012, 4:34

      I don’t believe these new clarifications would have found Hamilton in the wrong. The rules explicitly state “on a straight and before any braking area” – during which time Hamilton yielded plenty of room on the outside. Only along the exit of the corner did Hamilton “push” Maldonado off track, at which point Maldonado would have to follow the rules requiring him to only rejoin the track when it was safe to do so (i.e. not by driving into the side of Hamilton’s car). I’m not sure that corner is suited for two cars side by side, and not sure what Maldonado expected to happen is Hamilton stuck to the racing line (which was his right). Patience is a virtue…

      • leotef (@leotef) said on 13th July 2012, 6:57

        That’s exactly… People say HAM pushed out MAL at the corner but what he did was keeping the racing line thru the corner. The only choice MAL had was as GRO did, taking inside at the corner entry or cutting the track and giving back position…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th July 2012, 9:08

      @james_mc

      absolve Maldonado of blame to a certain extent in Valencia as Hamilton contravened them.

      No they don’t – see the “on a straight and before any braking area” part (which, as it says in the article, was emphasised in the document).

  9. cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 12th July 2012, 23:28

    Yay! I was really hoping for more defensive driving regulations. Because what we all really want is more stewards investigations and more penalties for defensive driving…

    Yeah right.

  10. maxthecat said on 12th July 2012, 23:36

    This is getting stupid. The rule about the car behind with a front wheel inside the lead cars rear wheel having the advantage is beyond ridiculous. Just them race and stop making up rules please!

    Why punish Maldonado for hitting Lewis (correctly imo) and then make a rule 2 weeks later saying he was right and should have been given the advantage?! It’s rule making gone mad.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th July 2012, 23:52

      I see the opposite to you max, care to explain why you see it the way you do.

    • Wooolfy said on 13th July 2012, 10:24

      Wooolfy said on 13th July 2012, 10:18
      Everyone please read the article properly before making your comments. This clarifies defensive driving on a straight before a braking zone. It’s very very clear to me and does not pertain to LH and PM, since that incident was not on a STRAIGHT. I’m not surprised @Keith, at the irrelevance of some ppl’s comment.

    • Homewrecker (@homewrecker) said on 13th July 2012, 13:17

      I don’t think I could possibly disagree with this comment more.

  11. xeroxpt (@) said on 12th July 2012, 23:48

    Im surprised this is actually a good clarification.

  12. James_G said on 13th July 2012, 0:26

    I’ve never liked these interfering rules surrounding defensive driving.

    Back in the old days (When F1 was way more dangerous BTW) there was no defined rules, Drivers were pretty much allowed to go out there & race. If a driver felt another had done something over the line it was discussed & if need be a penalty, fine, warning or whatever was dished out.

    90% of the Great racing we saw 20+ years back would see a dozen penalty’s handed out today & I think thats wrong.
    Nigel Mansell was on Sky F1 recently & made the point that most of the racing he was involved in during his career that was considered exciting at the time would be considered illegal today under stupid regulations like this.

    The FIA should just let the drivers race without these meddlesome rules like in the past when a hard fought, close racing fight between drivers was actually exciting to watch.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 13th July 2012, 2:31

      (When F1 was way more dangerous BTW) there was no defined rules

      Did you spot the connection?

      • James_G said on 13th July 2012, 3:40

        I meant when cars (less driver protection) & tracks (less runoff etc….) were more dangerous.

        something i find intresting is that when there was no defined rules about defending/blocking there was actually a lot less contact between cars fighting for position when compared to today so it was actually safer in that respect.

        • Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 13th July 2012, 5:24

          when cars (less driver protection) & tracks (less runoff etc….) were more dangerous.

          IMHO, those days drivers gave each other more respect on track.
          They knew driving recklessly would get someone badly hurt or even killed. They therefore raced but raced more carefully making less mistakes.
          Remember Rene Arnoux vs Gilles Villeneuve at Dijon??

          • John H (@john-h) said on 13th July 2012, 9:00

            This is entirety correct. Alonso would no doubt agree too. However, we can’t make the cars less safe of course so I guess punishing bad behaviour is the only option.

  13. Kimi4WDC said on 13th July 2012, 2:45

    Well, just look at the average age of the drivers today. No surprise we need clarifications for everything.

    I won’t be surprised we get a rule that does not allow you to block if you .5sec slower than car behind, oh well it’s partially there already.

    Personally I find this very disturbing. Mandatory military service for F1 license would do only good for most of the drivers :)

  14. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 13th July 2012, 7:35

    I still see Hamilton falling foul of these updated rules.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th July 2012, 9:11

      @alexf1man I can’t think of any incident this year where he might have – what did you have in mind?

      • alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 13th July 2012, 10:43

        Not this year (unless nudging Maldonado off the road counts), but he certainly had issues in the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, where he let Kimi past after Bus Stop but retook him into La Source (which was “wrong” even though there was no clear cut rule for such overtaking at the time).

  15. isherdholi (@isherdholi) said on 13th July 2012, 8:38

    So does this new clarification means there’s no longer a need to leave a car width’s space unless the driver behind can get his front wing in line with the rear wheels of the car in front?

    Suppose the car behind tries to pass the car in front on the inside of a corner by out-braking, and the car in front, intends to follow the racing line and there is a collision.

    Are we now saying the blame of this incident will shift based on whether the car behind has his front wing in line with the rear wheels of the car in front?

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