The big talk among drivers on Verstappen’s defending tactics has moved FIA into action. FIA issued a new ruling on what’s acceptable, effective immediately.
We made this point in our recent article of the DriveAlyze column (read here again) : the defending driver’s move, when on the braking zone, can be a very dangerous maneuver even if it’s the one and only line change. The attacking driver is left with no room for reaction. Kimi Raikkonen was pretty vocal about it in Hungary (mind you, Kimi is among the “cleanest” drivers while at battle) and Lewis Hamilton was made to cut through another path around Suzuka in order to avoid crashing into Verstappen.
According to the new ruling:
Any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards.
In our previous article, this was our relevant comment:
This maneuvre (moving in the braking zone) could also be falling into the case of article 27.8, which forbids abnormal changes of direction that aim to hinder other drivers.
Part of Article 27 of FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations 2016
27.7 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. Whilst defending in this way the driver may not leave the track without justifiable reason.
27.8 Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.
Charlie Whiting seems to have taken talks with Max in private after Suzuka, explaining those unwritten rules of respect. The active champions of the grid, namely Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen were the ones to ask for clarifications on the matter.
Hamilton was quoted to have said:
In the 10 years I’ve been in Formula 1, there’s been the same rule that all us drivers understand. It’s only newcomers that have come in and are potentially not abiding by that same rule we’ve all shared for many many years.
While Jenson Button was not far off:
I think this is the correct ruling. We started a long time ago in the sport and I think there’s always been a good understanding that it’s incorrect to move in the braking zone when somebody’s trying to overtake. Because when you’re trying to overtake, everything is on the limit. You are on the limit, you are on the edge, you’re pushing the boundaries. As soon as someone moves in front of you and takes the line that you were aiming for, you’re screwed. You’re either going to go over the top of them or you’re going to miss them and end up in the barriers.