Remember that move last year by Max Verstappen that garnered the attention of fans and the FIA alike prompting the creation of the “Max Verstappen Rule”? That’s now been eliminated for 2017.
The rule was to prevent un-safe driving in the braking zones and was a blanket regulation that made any movement in the braking zone a penalty-worthy infraction. I certainly wasn’t a fan of the rule at the time because I felt each case was something to be reviewed contextually and individually. It seems the teams and the FIA are of like minds.
The FIA’s Charlie Whiting says that the rule has now been broadened and relaxed from its original wording in 2016.
“Some of the incidents that we saw last year may be handled slightly differently, simply because the so-called ‘Verstappen rule’ has gone,” said Charlie Whiting.
“Before, we said any move under braking will be investigated.
“Now we have a simple rule which says effectively that if a driver moves erratically or goes unnecessarily slowly or behaves in a manner that could endanger another driver, then he will be investigated.
“So there’s a very broad rule now.
“The way we interpreted the regulations last year was to simply use the rules that we had to say that moving under braking was potentially dangerous, and hence would be reported to the stewards every time.
“[Now] each incident will be dealt with only on the basis of whether or not it was a dangerous manoeuvre, not necessarily because he moved under braking.”
I think this is the right move and each incident is a contextually different element that needs to be reviewed on its merits, not a large, scratchy blanket of condemnation thrown over the entire series. If the new cars do find it difficult to pass due to increase in aerodynamic downforce or if the sport is trying to ensure that the new tires improve passing, then the relaxation of this rule may be the right move to foster that notion.
As the Autosport article expertly points out, the intent here is to also improve the consistency of the stewarding of a race and the review and penalty application for incidents. Autosport quotes Charlie:
“That was the request from the teams, they wanted less investigation, only in cases where it was clearly dangerous would there be action,” he said.
“We had a meeting yesterday with all the stewards, and we reviewed all the controversial incidents from last year to see how they would be dealt with under the so-called new rules, or the new approach.
“I won’t go into it now, but it was quite interesting. Things would have been dealt with differently, in some cases.
“What we’ve done to try and help the stewards is to introduce what we call a video archive system, which allows them to instantly refer to other incidents of a similar nature.
“So without having to trawl through and try and remember what happened to so and so, they’ll be able to pull up any similar incident.
“They’ll be sorted by type of incident, for example – causing a collision, click, click, click, six of those incidents, see what the decisions were, and that should be able to give the stewards not only more chance to be consistent, but also faster.”
That’s good news because if there is one nagging issue in the minds of fans, it is the lack of consistency in the penalty calling by race stewards. The penalties for two similar incidents could be completely different moving the precedent from one end of the pitch to the other and this drives fans mad. What fans would like to see is a consistent approach to stewarding because anything less implies favoritism and worse.
Hat Tip: Autosport