This season’s curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix was the first in which the 20 racers had to comply with F1’s new driving standards guidelines.
The FIA have issued the guidelines in the wake of last year’s controversies when drivers were battling on track, with the clashes between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton inevitably at the forefront of the thinking.
The two World Championship rivals were involved in several incidents throughout the campaign, most notably at Silverstone, Monza, Interlagos and Jeddah.
Only the teams have been issued with the guidelines, but the BBC report they have also seen them.
It is said that when a driver is being overtaken they must give “sufficient room to an overtaking car” if “a significant portion” is alongside.
The overtaking manoeuvre must be done “in a safe and controlled manner, while enabling the car to remain within the limits of the track”.
Although it has not been quantified what “a significant portion” of a car actually constitutes, it does say that “among the various factors that will be looked at by the stewards…they will consider if the overtaking car’s front tyres are alongside the other car by no later than the apex of the corner”.
The same rules apply for overtaking around the outside and that the stipulation to allow “sufficient room” applies when “a significant portion” of the attacking car has drawn alongside, for example “if the overtaking car is ahead of the other car from the apex of the corner.
“The car being overtaken must be capable of making the corner while remaining within the limits of the track.”
If these new guidelines had been in place last season, Verstappen would have incurred a penalty for the incident with Hamilton at Turn 4 in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when the Mercedes driver was trying to pass his Red Bull rival.
There are also clarifications regarding dangerous driving and giving back an advantage gained.
In relation to the former, teams were reminded that “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’s width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.
“However, 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 strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the stewards.”
As for giving back an advantage gained, the new guidelines say: “If a driver, for example, short-cuts a chicane or a corner, it is their responsibility to clearly give back the advantage gained. This may include giving back the timing advantage to drop back a position behind the relevant driver.”
This puts the onus more on the discretion of drivers and teams rather than Race Control and therefore could, in theory, lead to more penalties if unilateral action is not taken.
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