RACING

Why F1’s code of conduct meant British GP moves were tough but legal

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Indeed, many observers scratched their heads at some pretty aggressive attacking and defending moves, and especially at times when the riders looked like they had been pushed off the track.

There were several instances throughout the afternoon of drivers finding themselves outside their rivals but finding themselves without a place at the exit.

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Mick Schumacher was forced by Max Verstappen out of Brooklands as he tried to round the outside of the world champion in their late race battle.

It was almost identical circumstances on the first lap of the official restart, as Charles Leclerc tried to make a similar pass on Verstappen and found himself without a place, so he had to take off.

Laps before the Verstappen/Schumacher incident, Lewis Hamilton deteriorated and ran away as Red Bull rival Sergio Perez dived for the inside at Village and claimed the full width of the track on the exit of the turn in their fight for second.

At the same corner on the first lap of the initial start, moments before the red flag went out, Hamilton had done the same with Leclerc, forcing his Ferrari driver through the curbs to avoid a collision.

All of these incidents were enough to spark debate and all except the Hamilton/Leclerc moment (likely due to the red flag) were ‘noted’ by stewards for review before deciding no further action was required. necessary.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

The leniency has sparked a lot of intrigue, especially since it’s long been accepted that in battles it’s incumbent to give way to the running for rivals.

Indeed, the FIA’s own International Sporting Code states: “Maneuvers likely to interfere with other drivers, such as the deliberate piling of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Pushing or other contact resulting in any lasting benefit is strictly prohibited. Any driver found guilty of any of the above offenses will be reported to the Stewards.

However, ISC alone has never been enough to cover all of F1’s circumstances and earlier this year F1 Race Director Niels Wittich clarified this for teams. and pilots on what is and is not allowed.

And the key factor in judging the rights and wrongs of cars entitled to a turn has been clearly defined in this “Driving Standards Guidelines” document that has been sent out.

Although the definitions are “non-binding”, they are what stewards take into account when deciding whether or not an incident deserves a sanction.

The key in each of the British GP’s controversial moves is to understand the point at which the overtaking car has earned the right to be awarded the track and therefore can no longer be ousted.

And while there’s long been this broad view of just needing a “significant part” of the car next to it to make the track yours, things are actually defined much more specifically than that.

The Schumacher/Verstappen, Leclerc/Hamilton and Leclerc/Verstappen moments of a driver overtaking on the outside essentially require the attacker to be ahead of his rival past the apex of the corner.

The document notes: “When considering what is a ‘significant portion’, for overtaking on the outside of a bend, among the various factors which will be considered by marshals when exercising their discretion, the marshals will consider whether the overtaking car is ahead of the other car from the apex of the corner. The overtaken car must be able to take the corner while staying within the track boundaries.”

In all three cases, the attacking driver on the outside may have had a good chunk of his car alongside, but at no time did he step forward from the top.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Thus, as long as the defending driver remained within the limits of the track on the exit (which happened in all cases), his actions were fully within the rules.

When it comes to the Perez/Hamilton moment, where Red Bull ousted the Mercedes after going inside, the requirements are slightly different.

A car passing on the inside, the interpretation of “significant portion” is based on: “if the front tires of the overtaking car are next to the other car at the latest at the apex of the corner”.

And that’s exactly what Perez had done with his late braking move to snatch the place from Hamilton just as they were on top.

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So as long as the move was done in a “safe and controlled” manner and Perez stayed within the track boundaries at all times, the circuit was his from the top down.

Racing rules may seem to encourage drivers to be a little more ruthless with rivals coming out of corners than they may have been in the past, but for now that’s how drivers FIA and F1 are happy to accept.

As Verstappen said of the Schumacher fight: “It was good, a tough but fair battle, I think.”

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