FIA clarifies defensive driving guidelines

Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.

12 July 2012 by Ryan Wood

The FIA has clarified what drivers can and can't do when overtaking/defending for position following a spate of incidents.

The governing body's Charlie Whiting issued a directive to the teams at the British Grand Prix after concerns were expressed on a number of occasions that certain drivers were defending in an over-aggressive manner.

The guidelines prior to the revision noted that if a 'significant' part of the attacking car is alongside, then the defending driver must leave room and shouldn't force them wide. However if a 'significant' part of the car isn't alongside, they can use the entire width of the track to defend - much like Nico Rosberg at the Bahrain GP.

"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," states the guidelines.

The new directive clarifies exactly what the stewards consider to be a 'significant' part of the attacking car as this was considered to be a grey area in the regulations. 

"For the avoidance of doubt, if any part of the front wing of the car attempting to pass is alongside the rear wheel of the car in front this will be deemed to be a 'significant portion'."

The clarification not only makes it easier for attacking drivers to successfully complete a move without being crowded off the track, but it gives the race stewards a clearer understanding of who's at fault should the manoeuvre result in the coming together of those involved.