The discussion of Max Verstappen’s move on Lewis Hamilton at the Japanese Grand Prix continued into the weekend in Austin Texas for the US Grand Prix with a new rule from the governing body of Formula 1—FIA says that there will be no moving under braking.
“Any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards.”
While some are calling it the Verstappen Rule, I think that’s a bit harsh because I’ve seen this for quite a while in F1 and junior series so Max isn’t the first to jink left when he see a driver behind him fade left for a pass in the braking zone.
I’m not defending dangerous defensive moves in racing but what I am concerned about is the amount of regulatory oversight and litigious nature the series is becoming. DRS has long been a bugbear of mine as it isn’t the same for all drivers contextually speaking. I also feel that penalties have become the new manner in which the teams are ushering in judicial fiat over the sport for situations they don’t like.
Granted, the drivers were vocal on this issue and for good reason if they feel unsafe in this situation but decades of racing and only now are we drawing a line in the sand about moving under braking.
While I believe the sport is regulating itself out of good defensive driving and good passing with onerous rules governing both scenarios, I also believe the FIA are ill-prepared to regulate with any effective consistency without a traveling regulatory steward program that understands all the regulations, permutations and precedents set in previous races and years. Sure, Charlie or Jo may know all of them but they are only two people in a sport that takes many to run. Also, the guest steward is a random element and so are the motoring club stewards.
IF you are going to pile more regulations each year and even mid-year, then you will have to have a regulatory stewarding system that is beyond reproach and right now, I do not sense the FIA has that type of system.
I’m not defending Max’s move but what I am saying is, did this really take a new regulation change or could this have not been a simple discussion and warning to all the drivers with a punitive action taken should it occur again? The regulation will demand that stewards pick the fly poop out of the pepper each race and each defensive move to determine through video and telemetry if someone jinked the wheel even slightly if there are protests by teams up and down the paddock. Any defensive move could be challenged as breaching this regulation and we already have enough quibble that can impact the race result hours after its ran.
If we are going to micromanage the driving on every inch of a race, then we have allowed the teams to demand litigious regulations to impact the racing on track to their own benefit. In Japan, Lewis didn’t get it done and ran out of laps. He came up on Max in the last lap or two of the race and one would presume he would be quicker in the horrible DRS zone but for reasons only he and Max know, he couldn’t get it done in the zone. Max put a dodgy defend on him in the final turns and it certainly should have prompted a stern discussion from the FIA.
Can we not put that to bed or are we using one of the sacred pummeling cudgels of F1—SAFETY—to make new regulations which now had better be meted out consistently and in every single instance or fans will cry foul. Now that there is a rule, I do not ever want to see a defensive move with the slightest bit of movement under braking.
Never mind that this was already and understood rule for drivers in F1. When asked about the new rule, Max said that he was happy about it. Not happy about the rule, just happy people were talking about it. Atta boy Max, way to work it young man.