After several incidents regarding reigning world champion Max Verstappen, the FIA has forbidden F1 drivers from drawing alongside a competitor's car before safety car-induced race restarts. The motorsport governing body has issued an official update on the pre-event notes ahead of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.
The updates in the notes included a reminder of Article 55.14 of the sporting regulations, stating:
“In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out, drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”
Such tactics have been used by Verstappen at the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix against seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. He then used them again in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia against Charles Leclerc, resulting in unfair advantages.
New race director Niels Wittich has clarified that this particular maneuver before the race restart will not be tolerated.
"Time will tell" - Max Verstappen still cautious going into the Australian Grand Prix
Red Bull got off to a devastating start in the 2022 season with a double-DNF in the season opener at the Bahrain International Circuit. Despite Max Verstappen's sensational win in the next race in Jeddah, the Dutchman can still only hope that the team will continue to put up a challenge with Charles Leclerc. He said:
“I hope it’s better. But let’s see. Different track layout this weekend so we will go at it again. We just constantly try to improve the car like everyone else and try to bring new bits to try and make it faster. So I hope it’s going to be a good weekend for us. But time will tell, it’s a bit difficult to say where we’re going to be.”
Meanwhile, the 2022 Australian Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday and F1 will be back on the Albert Park Circuit after three long years.