Great, now we have the ‘Verstappen Rule’

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.

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Tickled Pink

Maybe they should install little red brake lights on the back of cars so the drivers and fans can know when the brakes are being used.

Bill Cape Coral

Verstappen was talked to twice by Whiting and it did no good, the drivers made it clear to Verstappen that what he was doing was not good and it did no good, Verstappen blew all of them off including Whiting so now the drivers have finally had enough and put their foot down with the FIA and Whiting who must have agreed as he has twice tried to talk sense into Verstappen to no avail. The drivers had a respect for each other in that situation, something Verstappen refused to acknowledge so don’t go crying about it now in your… Read more »

Negative Camber

You mean aggressive like running Alonso off at Monza or Alonso running Vettel off a year later at same spot or Lewis at Canada or Nico at Austria? That kind of aggressive driving? Max has moved under braking, I completely agree with you there, and if he didn’t listen then driver points can be assessed or they can sit him down until he learns…like they did Grosjean. Now, here’s where I eat an entire crow, if the FIA has to have a regulation official and very specific prior to imposing any punitive actions, then my complete argument is irrelevant because… Read more »


The examples of aggression that you cite are not comparable to moving under braking. All those cases occurred on the exit from a corner, where the driver on the racing line isn’t usually obliged to leave a gap, as its usually the case that their car simply can’t turn much tighter at the speeds they’re doing without losing control. If the car on the outside had chosen to hold their position and not leave the track, yes there may have been a collision but it would have been classed as a racing incident – as it was when Ricciardo didn’t… Read more »


I am not sure how many axes the author if this article is trying to grind but it appears this person does not understand the evolving nature of the technology in F1 and how it ultimately might call for new rules. Also F1 needs to keep up with evolution in driving techniques as the talent in F1 becomes younger and bolder. Bottom line is that every sport has regulations and those regulations change as the sport changes. And yes, regulations also promote safety within the sport! SMH!

Negative Camber

I’m not grinding axes here, I asking questions as to how much more regulation can the FIA manage with shifting steward duties, and already full plate and history of inconsistency in applied rules infractions and now a new rule on braking zones when we already have a full understanding between the FIA and drivers. To me, this isn’t about new tech and driving techniques…blocking under braking zones has been done for decades, that’s not a new tech-prompted technique nor is it down to young drivers being brave, was Senna, Prost, Clark, Hakkinen, Schumacher not brave and bold? The technical regulations… Read more »

Bill Cape Coral

One more thing all the armchair keyboard warriors and writers like you who think it is so easy to drive these cars I wonder how you would react at 200 MPH on a track just wide enough to fit three cars on and some knuckle head did that to you.

The answer is all of your would likely poop your own pants just traveling down the straight at that speed knowing you have to brake hard for a corner coming up because at those speeds the track starts to get really narrow.

Paul KieferJr

So, who, exactly was saying that it was that easy? We’re talking about rules and you’re talking about the difficulty of driving a car at speed. Two different things here.

Negative Camber

Whoa, lighten up my man, no one implied it’s easy and I would be furious if someone blocked me under braking and that’s why they already had an agreement via the drivers and FIA over this very issue and it’s been this way for quite some time. What I am arguing isn’t how difficult it is to drive a car at speed, I’m talking about how difficult it is to regulate the series through more and more rules that are not deployed with consistency. They shouldn’t block in braking zones, no doubt, but I’m asking how many more regulations can… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

If I could actually trust that the Human Race as a whole was a moral and just species to always behave morally and ethically with the best of intentions whenever they follow the rules, we wouldn’t even have the need for rules to begin with. As we all know, such is not the case. Ergo, the need for the rules. It’s our way of saying “Here and no further”. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people abuse the rules and try to use them to an obviously unfair, unethical, immoral, unjust and, in some cases, unsafe fashion. Since I… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

I have an idea in regards to consistent stewarding that also allows for the doling out of the position to supporters of the FIA. One of them should be a professional steward who gets his guidance directly from Charlie Whiting and the staff that handles the regs. The next one would be the local track expert, who know the racing lines in and out, and has a grasp of the best practices regarding his/her track. The last position can be the guest steward, a friend of the FIA or famous driver, etc. For example, Mark, I mean Fake Charlie Whiting,… Read more »

Negative Camber

LOL…I would take Tom’s word over mine any day. ;) TK is terrific.

Negative Camber

And here, Romain Grosjean offers a valid reason for clamp down, I’m just not sure how well it can be managed and if it won’t be exploited: “We’ve seen a lot of moving under braking,” said Grosjean. “I complained about it yesterday, when watching the race from Japan. “A lot of drivers were moving under braking. [Carlos] Sainz, Max and [Jolyon] Palmer did it to me.” When asked if the clampdown was needed, the Franco-Swiss said: “I think so. “You can see it a lot in the younger categories so when they come to Formula 1, they do the same… Read more »

Paul Gerrard

Movement under braking means (and correct me if you think this is wrong) that you do a reactionary move. You can choose any line you want coming up to a corner but you can’t change you’re line because of something you see in your mirrors or hear. This has been a basis for safe and fair passing for well probably a hundred years or so, it’s always been part of the “gentlemen’s agreement” including passer is responsible for the pass no matter what and it is your corner when you are even with the other car. Sometimes people abuse the… Read more »

Martin Faber

Better speak for yourself… mostly people choose the way which is up their alley, that’s what started this whole discussion. Ferrari (nr 3) and Force India (nr4) started the discussion to stop (RBR nr2), that’s for a very obvious reason which has little left to do with safety. If it was about safety drivers would have complained after a large crash, like Monaco 2015 where Grosjean made a defensive move on Verstappen. The FIA saw Grosjeans move as legit and Verstappen took the penalties. There was a general discussion of who was at fault, but the defensive move from Grosjean… Read more »

Paul Gerrard

I don’t care about racing politics just what happens on the track that is fair/unfair or safe/unsafe etc.. You say Hamilton could have “braked a bit harder”? You realize they are braking at the maximum? There is no “a bit harder” that is the whole issue with secondary moves, it either results in contact or going off. The passing driver has to release a bit of brake to gain some steering to respond to the second move and if they judged things correctly when executing the passing attempt that means he goes off or hits. That’s why these moves are… Read more »

Martin Faber

The age thing is getting a bit old… Verstappen is no rookie anymore either, he’s just another driver with an aggresive approach. Vettel previously said that’s a main strength of Verstappen, other drivers backed Verstappen up after previous events… including Hamilton.

The move in Japan was no where unsafe, even Mercedes’ Toto and Lauda agreed it was firm but safe.

This obviously isn’t about Japan or Hungary or Spa this is about preventing possible future events.

Paul Gerrard

“age thing is getting a bit old” true, haha, though it’s more experience at the F1 level and the damning response from the other drivers proves it’s true (even if it doesn’t fit your narrative). Everyone loves aggressive, we are not talking about aggressive or not aggressive, we are talking about a specific move that is over the line because it puts drivers at unnecessary risk.

Martin Faber

‘over the line’ is very subjective…. a lot of fans enjoy the stir Verstappen creates, the FIA felt it was inside the line.


More rules that are open for interpretation… So moving while under breaking is still allowed but only open for a penalty when you bring troubles to another driver….

Rules need to be simple and not open for interpretation. Now it can happen that the back driver makes a mistake while under breaking but when the driver in front makes even the tiniest movement in that breaking zone he could get the blame for it…


Back when the world championship started, drivers had more respect for giving each other space. Those that didn’t had big crashes with one or more of the drivers involved ending their racing career (through death or serious injury). As a result no regulations were required, self preservation was enough. As safety in the sport improved certain individuals took advantage in order to protect their position. Without the expectation of fatality if two cars touch during racing then more and more rules have been introduced. The side effect is that drivers now find it impossible to race legally. The Villeneuve –… Read more »

The Captain

Well it seems that what the FIA is really doing is clarifying and existing rule that was vague to begin with. But while I get all the hand wringing about this (and I agree with a lot of it) and arguments over whose car can do what under braking, frankly this is one of those things where I feel that none of us really get to have an opinion. Our weekend track days and our asses on the couch really get no say or carry any weight here. 19 of the best drivers in the world said they feel unsafe… Read more »

Negative Camber

Again, I’m not arguing that moving under braking isn’t dangerous, I’m arguing the ability to continually add more and more definitive regulations and lack the structure to call them consistently. Even Lewis implies it: “It needs to be clear because if that is now allowed, and common sense is allowed to prevail, all of us will just do that and you’ll see cars staggered all down the grid. “Now it’s never been a rule. If I’d known in the last race I would have also put the car there. We had asked and they said no. “If it’s inconsistent then… Read more »

Negative Camber

Yeah, I have no idea what I was talking about on this topic as an armchair idiot. And yet, here we are…penalizing a driver and changing results hours after a race due to a complaint and engaging in forensic review of telemetry. I hope they are happy with themselves.