FIA changes safety car rules after Abu Dhabi

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FIA changes safety car rules after Abu Dhabi

Formula 1

FIA changes safety car rules after Abu Dhabi

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The FIA has changed a key piece of wording in its Sporting Regulations relating to the use of the safety car following the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

Then-race director Michael Masi opted to allow only the five lapped cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves before immediately restarting the race, going against regulations that suggested every lapped car needed to be allowed through — or none at all — and that a further lap should be completed behind the safety car.

In a post-race appeal from Mercedes against the result, Red Bull argued that the wording of the regulations allowed Masi to select which cars could unlap themselves, as the terminology used was “any lapped cars.”

In the latest version of the Sporting Regulations that were approved on Tuesday evening, what is now Article 55.13 has seen “any” changed to “all” in order to prevent a repeat.

“If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message ‘LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE’ has been sent to all Competitors using the official messaging system, all cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the Safety Car.”

The regulations regarding restarting after that point remain unchanged, with the safety car to enter the pits at the end of the following lap after allowing lapped cars to overtake, unless the clerk of the course deems its presence is still necessary.

The FIA replaced Masi and restructured race control in the wake of the Abu Dhabi controversy, with Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich sharing race director duties this year, supported by Herbie Blash in a permanent role. The governing body also stated it would release the findings of a report into the handling of last year’s championship decider following a World Motor Sport Council meeting later this week.

One other change approved this week relates to the scoring of points in shortened races, with tweaks to the points awarded in races that completed more than 50% but less than 75% of the race distance. In that case, fourth place now scores 10 points rather than the nine originally announced, and seventh scores four points rather than five.

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