New F1 guidelines to stop side-by-side restarts

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

New F1 guidelines to stop side-by-side restarts

Formula 1

New F1 guidelines to stop side-by-side restarts

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The FIA has issued new guidelines stating what is and is not acceptable at safety-car restarts in Formula 1 that outlaw Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s favored strategy of pulling alongside the car ahead immediately before restarts.

Verstappen has used this technique in both races held so far in 2022, running side by side with race leader Charles Leclerc ahead of restarts both in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He also did this with Lewis Hamilton in the last race of 2021 in Abu Dhabi.

A clarification issued by F1 race director Niels Wittich makes clear that any car creating any overlap with the car ahead is not allowed. This note included a diagram showing that running either fully alongside or even placing your front axle alongside the rear axle of the car ahead is not permitted.

The diagram makes it clear that any safe car positioning with no overlap created by any part of the car, including the nose, is considered acceptable regardless of timing.

The race director’s note also includes an excerpt from Article 55.14 of the F1 sporting regulations governing safety car restarts. This has not changed, but it makes clear the safety basis for doing so given the potential for such car positioning to “endanger other drivers.”

The excerpt states that: “In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any maneuver which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”

This change follows a lengthy drivers’ briefing held at Albert Park last night during which the question of restarts was discussed.

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