Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Suzuka, 2016

FIA bans the ‘Verstappen block’

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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The FIA has warned drivers they will now be reported to the stewards if they change direction under braking and force a rival to take avoiding action.

Although no regulations have been altered, the FIA has issued guidance to teams ahead of the United States Grand Prix alerting them to a change in how the existing rules will be interpreted from now on.

Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Hungaroring, 2016
Should the ‘Verstappen block’ be banned?
The clarification is as follows:

“Article 27.5 of the Sporting Regulations states that ‘…no car may be driven…in a manner which could be potentially dangerous to other drivers…’, furthermore, Article 27.8 prohibits any manoeuvre ‘…liable to hinder other drivers, such as…any abnormal change of direction’.”

“With this in mind, and with the exception of any move permitted by Article 27.6, 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.”

The change in the interpretation of the rules follows two high-profile incidents involving Max Verstappen where rivals of his claimed he had changed his line in a braking zone to defend his position.

Kimi Raikkonen complained about Verstappen’s driving after colliding with him in Hungary. After the last race in Japan Mercedes lodged a protest against Verstappen for changing his line when braking for the chicane while defending his position from Lewis Hamilton, but later withdrew the complaint.

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 110 comments on “FIA bans the ‘Verstappen block’”

    1. In your face “insert young and dangerous driver since 1950”

    2. Very good.

      1. This was always illegal.
        But of course we never wanna punish Max… let’s declare it illegal after the fact

    3. It was dangerous, yes, but I have to admit that I was enjoying the excitement that built up when someone was about to pass Verstappen and you knew he was gonna defend like his life depended on it!

      1. Yeah, I’m also having mixed feelings about it. It is dangerous and this certainly makes it more exciting (for a lot of people, if not everyone, though many wouldn’t admit it). While I enjoy the excitement (the show is improved!), I’m not raring to seeing another big crash with grave consequences. I like Verstappen, but I’m not sure this is the type of element we want added (back?) to F1. Maybe getting rid of DRS would make it safe enough, but as it is it can be too dangerous. In any case, he showed he can fight ‘clean’ already, and it’s just as exciting (even more, maybe?).

    4. Do we not talk about rules too much? It is really annoying. I thought what he did at Suzuka was fair enough. Spa was too far. Instead of tinkering with the rules why don’t they just give him a really stern warning.

      1. +1. Yet it baffles them why fans are disinterested in watching now

      2. Warning of what? Not breaking a rule? He was spoken to twice by Charlie Whiting. I agree rules should not be tinkered and the contstant chat of the paddock but that should only be for things like the helmet change rule etc and not ones that improve safety.

    5. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      22nd October 2016, 19:02

      This sport is slowly but surely getting more sanitised. Hamilton does dodgy moves all the time, as soon as he gets a bit of pay back, it gets banned. Ridiculous.

      1. The act of two cars jostling for position is actually an inconvenience to these people. Motorsport is an inconvenience to them.

        1. To be honest, from seeing the new regulation, it seems to be worded as openly as possible. It’s basically just saying, the stewards have the right to look at any incident they believe is dangerous. So I don’t think there is risk of anything drastic happening.

          To be honest, the only Max move that really, I myself didn’t like was the Kemmel incident. Which at the time was completely legal. So I think it’s good that the regulations allow steward discretion.

          1. Hungary wasnt too flash either…..they actually made contact.

        2. There’s a difference between jostling for position and driving in to another car when they are in need of applying their brakes just because your car happens to be able to brake later.

      2. Ridiculous indeed. They should replace Whiting.

      3. Hamilton didn’t complain about the move so why bring his name into it? Verstappen has done this repeatedly, it’s a build up of instances that has led to this decision.

        1. Hamilton immediately complained about it.

          1. As did all the drivers in the end of this technique!

          2. Knoxploration
            23rd October 2016, 17:19

            Yep. He didn’t even wait until he got out of the car to complain:

            Lap 53: From Hamilton – “Max moved under braking.”

    6. And now the commentators are busy talking about track limits instead of calling it. Grrrr!

      1. I only noticed the commentators talking about tyres. One hour and a half just talking about tyres.

        1. Well, the tyres will be more durable next year. However, tyres will still be a significant factor in motorsport, so it may continue.

      2. As long there is asfalt just race lines are just end of the road nothing more just place grass and gravel next to the lines and let them ride that.

    7. Michael Brown (@)
      22nd October 2016, 19:16

      Unless Verstappen can weave while braking and still make a corner, he moves right before braking.

      1. William Jones
        23rd October 2016, 16:19

        As the other drivers are universally caring so much more speed than him, I feel that he brakes late, let’s up on the brakes to manoeuvre then brakes again. would love to see the fia graphics with the g-forces imposed on top of one of those moves

    8. The new ‘clarifications’ clear up exactly nothing. What is deemed driving potentially dangerous? Driving 1 inch from an other driver is potentially dangerous, so is outbraking another driver. What is the point where a manoeuvre is ‘abnormal’? Are drivers only allowed to race three driving lines, the normal driving line, an attacking one and a defending one? What is the point you have to commit to your line?

      This opens up more possibilities for team to dispute certain actions which are normally considered fair.

      It would have made more sense to better enforce the rule that is at the base of this entire story, “not changing direction in the brakingzone”. Charlie Whiting already planned to start using telemetry data for this. While difficult to enforce during the race, it would allow for a more fair outcome. There could be a high number of penalty points for the super license. This would rein in those who use these manoeuvres, but still allow them to race on the edge, which is what we all want to see.

      1. “not changing direction in the brakingzone”

        Would not have applied to Kemmel.

        1. Which would already have been covered by the existing rules. Blame the Spa stewards for not opting to act on that ocation, like many other moments during the Spa GP.

          1. Was it? Can you elaborate? (I am dumb, teach me)

          2. Exactly. It doesn’t change anything really, but it seems to indicate the stewards will actually start enforcing the rules.

            Much like how they completely ignored the double waved yellow flag rules etc etc etc.

            The problem is not so much the rules, but that the stewards seem to be less and less competent in actually applying the rules. They either seem to not know them (which makes sens if you are steward once a year) or they were told not to interfere with the driving too much and let stuff slide for the sake of entertainment.

            Verstappen got an overtake of the year award for overtaking a driver with all 4 wheels off track. It was a cool move with him using 4 fresh tyres against a driver who was just about to pit, but it still was an illegal overtake.

            Perhaps it was the fact that Nasr was heading to the pit on his worn out tyres anyway that made the stewards decide he would have gotten the place anyway and therefore no penalty, but still.

            1. The biggest reason: “The Show”. Rather than having a fair championship the stweards and most of the F1 companies understand they need more excitement and having controversies brings in the viewers. The long term fans don’t like it because we want fair racing whereas a lot of the top people want more figures and that includes literally ignoring the rules when they want to.

              Football was like this until goal line technology. FIFA said it added more excitement and talking points for the game rather than saying, look its a sport and we need to make it fair for EVERYONE so we will make sure goals are given when they should be and vice versa.

    9. Maybe if they didn’t ruin the art of defending a position giving the chasing driver such a massive advantage in the shape of DRS, we’d not have reached this point where EVERY manouver is defined tightly by rules.

      I know the Verstappen block was on the ragid edge of the regulations, but it has been perfectly executed most of the times. At Suzuka it even looked like in slow-motion.

      Also, if they want to stop this things happening they should not start with restrictions in F1… maybe they should start in lower formulas… but that’s also getting DRS too, so there you go… overtake me now you have a 10 km/h advantage, cuz I can’t do nothing.

      1. William Jones
        23rd October 2016, 16:22

        If you are going slower and the car behind is going quicker on any piece of tarmac, blocking that car is nothing to do with “art”. Art would be to allow that car past, but compromised, then exit the next corner better and retake the position.

    10. Rick (@wickedwicktheweird)
      22nd October 2016, 20:23

      Maybe they should give the cars indicators aswell, to ensure safe clean DRS highway passes.

      1. As soon as the one behind you indicates he wants to pass, you’ll have to keep to the right.

        1. Rick (@wickedwicktheweird)
          22nd October 2016, 23:24

          Exactly! Keep your lane :p

      2. @wickedwicktheweird – oh, don’t give such ideas even in jest, the FIA might think it a good one and implement it!

    11. So cornering with a car behind you is now banned.

        1. “any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal”

          Cornering itself is changing direction. So the attacking driver merely has to dive on the inside and the defending driver is then not allowed to take the apex.

          If the rule is applied as written….

          1. As Mike said : No

            If you need more: taking a corner does not constitute a change of direction. I know you “think” it does because the car is physically changing its direction, but that doesn’t constitute one in terms of the track or racing line, which is the context the rules are written in.

            1. There are multiple racing lines so it is impossible to enforce this rule.

            2. @godius

              It’s not about that, it’s about drivers suddenly changing direction in front of others. Put it this way, if the driver behind looks like he’s had some sort of mental fit on the wheel trying to avoid the guy in front, they’ll investigate.

            3. Exactly. Think of it like this…on a normal roadway you wouldn’t be advised to change lanes in front of a transport truck that is trying to brake for a coming stoplight. Once he’s committed to stopping within the normal range that he can, there will be nothing he can do but run someone over if they suddenly leap in front of him.

              Same with F1, and to me this isn’t even a re-interpretation, but moreso a reminder. Why would you put yourself in front of someone that will not be able to slow any more than they already are, such that they’d either have to hit you or go off the track? That’s simply not respectful, reasonable, nor within the code of ethics.

            4. Martin, the distinction you are making between physical line changing of the car and logical line changing of relation towards the hypthetical ideal racing line… …isn’t in the regulations. It’s common sense, but the regulations do not operate based on common sense.

    12. Utterly pathetic. Sanitised, dying sport.

    13. Nothing, absolutely nothing about Verstappen vs Hamilton was dangerous. This backlash is stunning. The drivers that complained are hypocrites (and this includes the driver I support) who have gotten lazy and complacent and have been shaken up in a way they don’t want to deal with. This sort of behaviour is killing the sport.

      1. @hahostolze, I don’t think that the Hamilton-Verstappen case in Suzuka was the trigger, rather it was Verstappen’s blocks on Kimi in Spa that seem to have been the trigger point.

        Incidentally, I would be interested to know how you would have reacted if, for example, Verstappen had collided with Kimi in Spa and had caused an accident in that case. Would you still support Verstappen’s behaviour, or would you instead be complaining that the FIA hadn’t done anything to discourage his behaviour?
        I can’t help but feel that some posters here would say that Verstappen should be allowed to continue what he does right up until the point where something goes badly wrong, at which point they’ll start complaining that the FIA should have stepped in earlier – despite the fact that they would have complained if the FIA did actually step in at an earlier point in time.

        1. camel, straw, back. Suzuka was the trigger.

          1. In the article From a German publication that someone posted elsewhere it was clear why the elder drivers wanted the move under braking banned.

            Rosberg said that in the TV it looks really cool but at 200+ km/h, with tunnel vision kicking in it’s not so fun. Alonso also said that the driver behind has really little time to react and it could lead to a crash like the one he had in Australia where the car in front was slower and moved unexpectedly.

      2. Verstappen being a threat to both Ferrari and Mercedes was the trigger.

        This whole discussion was a non issue in 2015, now Verstappen is fighting Ferrari and Mercedes all of a sudden it’s a big thing. All for the cause of safety…. I don’t buy that, Verstappens defending has never caused any crashes, firm but within limits. The FIA chnging the rules cause Ferrari drivers complaining is utterly disapointing for the sport

        1. @Matn They haven’t changed the rules.

          1. They added a line, which can be considered a change

    14. It does say reported to the stewards, that does not say the driver will be found guilty.
      It is not like the “slam dunk” offence of speeding in the pit lane.

      1. He didn’t listen to complaints by drivers or words-in-your-shell-like by Whiting. Next time he reflex blocks (assuming it’s this year), it’s a slam-dunk.

    15. Jelle van der Meer
      22nd October 2016, 20:34

      So sad and so funny – Sainz said it best – this is not new and has happened more frequent in recent years but because people higher up the grid are effected does it suddenly become an issue.

      Worsed of all – even more advantage is given to the attacker who already has the benefit of DRS. So with this latest rule you are no longer allowed to move just before you break however as attacker you are allowed to dive bomb on the inside of the turn, pray you make the corner and in case you hit the car you wanted to overtake you only run a tiny risk of getting a pointless 10 second penalty (Rosberg on Raikonnen in Malaysia).

      If Verstappen’s defensive move on Raikonnen in Hungary and Hamilton in Suzuka is going to be penalized it will be a very sad day.

      PS would Hamilton get punished as well in the future if he repeats his overtake on Rosberg as he did it last year in Austin. Breaking extremely late, diving to the inside of the corner and pushing the person he overtakes off the track.

      1. Or should Rosberg have got a penalty in Spain, for putting Hamilton on the grass.
        Your guess is as good as mine.

        1. No Rosberg was doing his one allowed move to defend. LH simply chose the wrong side, a side that was always closing, legally. LH put himself on the grass. Nico never forced LH to make an evasive maneuver by suddenly getting in front of him…he was already in front, moving to the right to defend, and clumsily LH decided somehow there would be room for him on the right too. This instance does not apply to the Max thing.

          1. That is wrong. He wasn’t making a legal move to defend at all. He moved after Hamilton went at it.
            Even if it was the legal move to defend he is not allowed to continue running out of road a car that is already by his side on a straight.
            He tried to squeeze the other car on a straight. What he did was worse than VS.
            The only reason he wasn’t penalized was the reluctance of stewards to interfere in the championship.

    16. Also, for the sake of fairness, they haven’t banned the Verstappen block per se. In Suzuka he claims to have moved prior to braking and that’s still not illegal in my interpretation.

    17. I would love to know how some of these drivers would have faired 10 years or so ago when blocking was allowed, with multiple direction changes.. F1 is getting far too clinical…

      1. You are wrong to say 10 years ago blocking my was allowed. Nor with multiple direction changes. There has always been a code of ethics that you don’t leap in front of someone in a situation where you know their only choice, since they’ve already committed under braking, would be to hit you or go off the track.

    18. RossoTorro (@)
      22nd October 2016, 21:22

      Nothing changed other than that moves will be automaticaly