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. isherdholi (@isherdholi) said on 13th July 2012, 8:41

    going back to the 1990 Suzuka GP, This new clarificatoin would have made the Senna/Prost collision, Prost’s fault.

  2. John H (@john-h) said on 13th July 2012, 8:43

    Ok Charlie, so when is a straight a ‘straight?’ Seriously this is ridiculous.

  3. 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.

    • AmaravatiKathulu said on 13th July 2012, 20:36

      since that incident was not on a STRAIGHT.
      0:07 – 0.08 in the footage, Williams Car is already side by side to McLaren, end of 0:08 Williams front nose is ahead of front nose of McLaren and the cars are on the straight before entering the braking zone. So per the rule McLaren should leave enough space for the other car, which the McLaren driver doesn’t.
      Way the McLaren/ Hamilton fans make it sound as though Williams car went outside the track and rejoined race with Williams spearing (using car as weapon) into McLaren. If you notice 0:10-0:12 Williams car always has the inner tyres on the green kerbs. on 0:12 once the Williams car is riding the orange-red kerbs, its loses contact with the track and while the Williams driver points the car to the left (away from McLaren car) the car doesn’t follow the steering input and hits McLaren car.
      So if anything, the McLaren driver was guilty of not giving enough space to the Williams car that already has its front ahead of McLaren car.

  4. Wooolfy said on 13th July 2012, 10:32

    @Keith, maybe you can write an article highliting the similarities and difference between the two clarifications, ie., the one defensive driving on a straight as against that within a braking zone where there is a definite racing line or between short corners.

  5. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th July 2012, 20:56

    Wise move regarding allowing the stewards to use their discretion with drivers leaving the track. It’s a difficult thing to police with so many variables. If the drivers slows sufficiently, knowing he’s gone off then I don’t see the harm.

  6. tasimana said on 14th July 2012, 7:16

    Some of the stuff Senna (the late Ayrton) used to do makes Maldonado and Kamikake Kobyashi look like saints. Also I seem to recall Schumi deliberately taking opponents out to try and win a world championship (pretty sure one backfired on him). At the end of the day though its why we love F1 more than an other type of car racing. I just hope they don’t make it sterile by making people scared to push the limits. As long as the stewards apply commonsense and the drivers use their heads. You don’t see Hamilton and Button crash when they have their ding dong battles (what’s wrong with Button btw). They give each other room when it means a failure to do so would cause a crash. Webber taking Alonso the last race was another case in point. If that was the old days or one of todays young guns it could have ended in tears.

  7. themagicofspeed (@) said on 14th July 2012, 22:08

    What a nanny-state load of utter rubbish. Stop dictating to racing drivers how they can or can not race, and let them race authentically and freely. If that means one of those two drivers trips over the other, boo hoo, so what. Thats Racing. Its saddening that for a man of considerable experience, he has never heard of it. Actually, its what Formula One used to be all about, back before money came along and became more important than anything else. He’s getting old so he probably cant remember.

    The FIA (Fools & Idiots Association) needs to stop sticking their nose in where its not welcome. If a driver wants to defend his position, assuming its sensible to do so (i.e unless its the likes of a Marussia or whatever holding up a front runner who is clearly faster, in which case, *** out of the way!) they should be allowed to do whatever they want to keep it. If the driver behind cant get past, so what, they obviously are not the better driver.

    This winds me up so much.

    The only exception, is when there’s championship contenders being held up by some rookie fool in his excuse for a Formula One car. Thats not on.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th July 2012, 22:34

      If there aren’t rules on what drivers can and can’t do to defend position then we’ll just end up with drivers ramming each other off the track.

      If you want to watch a destruction derby, fine, but I want to watch the pinnacle of motor racing. As long as the rules are clear and fair I’m happy.

      • themagicofspeed (@) said on 18th July 2012, 23:42

        I agree there should be some rules – like if you pass someone while not on the track you have to give it back, etc etc those sort of rules, but they shouldnt be sticking their nose in dictating how many times they can move in a braking zone. As long as theres no deliberation in causing a collision etc, i dont think its their right to interfere in the art of racing. They are rich, fancy men in suits with rulebooks, and they ought to remember that and get down of that towering high horse of theirs.

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