FIA clampdown on aggressive defensive tactics

VERSTAPPEN Max (ned) Red Bull Tag Heuer RB12 and RAIKKONEN Kimi (fin) Ferrari SF16-H team scuderia Ferrari action during the 2016 Formula One World Championship, Belgium Grand Prix from August 26 to 28 in Spa -Francorchamps, Belgium - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

FIA have clamped down on defensive driving tactics which have become a trademark of Max Verstappen after his rivals requested clarity regarding the overtaking rules during the drivers briefing ahead of the United States Grand Prix.

The FIA released a document ahead of qualifying in Austin, which stated: “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.”

Drivers aired their concerns about the way Verstappen has been defending during races, with Nico Hulkenberg warning that something needed to be done before there was a big accident as a result of such aggressive moves.

The concerns about Verstappen’s driving were focused on moving or changing line under braking, as well as what is called “wait-and-move” – moving to block a driver after the attacking driver commits to a move. Several drivers point to the dangers of both tactics and even consider such moves to be dirty.

Verstappen has been in the spotlight for his robust battles with Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen at the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix and with more recently with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the Japanese Grand Prix.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo locks a wheel under braking as he tries to overtake Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2016 in Suzuka. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // P-20161009-01012 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

BBC report that FIA race director Charlie Whiting has been confronted about the issue a number of times this season. His initial response was that Verstappen was driving on the edge but just within the bounds of acceptability.

Furthermore Verstappen has twice in recent races been taken aside by Whiting and warned to be careful about how he drives in such situations.

Whiting has now been forced to act and the new ruling is predicated on article 27.5 of the sporting regulations which states that “no car may be driven in a manner which could be potentially dangerous to other drivers” and article 27.8, which prohibits any manoeuvre “liable to hinder other drivers, such as any abnormal change of direction”.

In Austin drivers and teams have been reminded of article 27.6 which states: “More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off-line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

The regulation¬†tweak is already being referred to as the “Verstappen Rule” in the F1 paddock.