Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Suzuka, 2016

‘Verstappen rule’ led to Vettel penalty – Whiting

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Recent rule clarifications prompted by Max Verstappen’s driving led to Sebastian Vettel’s post-race penalty at the Mexican Grand Prix, FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed.

Whiting has had several discussions with drivers during the course of the year on the subject of drivers moving under braking. These were prompted by Verstappen’s incidents with Kimi Raikkonen in Hungary and Lewis Hamilton in Japan.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference Whiting described how the clarifications in the rules led to Vettel’s penalty for his incident with Daniel Ricciardo in Mexico.

“I think it might be helpful to go back to Hungary where there we tow incidents involving Kimi and Max,” said Whiting. “This was thoroughly discussed during the drivers’ meeting in Germany and the consensus of opinion was that moving under braking was something that should not be done.”

“We agreed with this and then we had the incident with Max and Lewis in Japan where the first thing Lewis said on the radio was ‘he moved when we were braking’.”

Mercedes protested Verstappen’s move against Hamilton in Japan but later withdrew it. According to Whiting the stewards had already “looked at it after the race” but “felt there wasn’t a case to answer”.

However the Japan incident “gave rise to a lengthy discussion in the drivers’ meeting in Austin”, which led to a final clarification on the rules, according to Whiting.

“I then issued what was a clarification of existing regulations to say what we felt should be reported to the stewards. And with that as the backdrop Mexico was really the first race where that rule was applied.”

“There are three fundamental points there within the rules: If a driver has to take evasive action, if a driver makes an abnormal change of direction in the braking zone and if it could be deemed to be potentially dangerous to another driver.”

“If those three conditions are satisfied then the stewards felt that was a dangerous move and should be penalised. So that’s how the stewards looked at it and they felt that Sebastian had moved under braking, that was very clear from the data, also clear from the video of course, it was potentially dangerous and it was an abnormal change of direction which could have led to an accident.”

Describing new footage of the incident from the track camera at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Whiting said: “You can see very clearly that both cars are on the left of the track, Sebastian moves to the right then in the braking zone moves to the left and you can see quite clearly that Daniel had to take evasive action.”

“Had Daniel’s right-front hit Sebastian’s left-rear it would have been a significantly different scenario and that’s what the stewards looked at. It was a potentially dangerous situation.”

Whiting added the stewards considered Vettel’s tangle with Ricciardo was a more serious infringement than Verstappen cutting turn one while battling the Ferrari driver, hence his more severe penalty.

“I don’t think it was actually dangerous”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016
Vettel denied his move could have been dangerous
Ricciardo said he appreciated that fans “don’t want to wait so long after the race to have an outcome” but said he agreed with the decision.

“When you’re in that braking zone once you’re committed, especially when you’re overtaking and you’re putting the car on the limit trying to out-brake someone, you’re already on the edge. And then any sort of move or something you’re not really in control.”

“Hence why I locked up the brake and it all turned into a bit of the mess. It’s the only real part where, it’s not that we’re not in control, but we can’t get out as much. When you’re on the straight if someone defends, if they move one way you can move the other. But once you’re committed to the braking it’s hard to pull out of that move.”

However Vettel said his defensive moves were within the rules and denied the incident was as dangerous as had been claimed.

“Obviously I don’t agree with the decision that was made,” said the Ferrari driver. “I moved over once to defend my position, after that I think I gave Daniel enough room on the inside, I kept the car straight for more than the majority of the braking.”

“I think the reason why Daniel locked up so bad is because there was no grip on the inside and it’s something that I think we all knew. There were people locking up in other corners when they were off-line.”

“So I think it actually looks a bit worse than it was, I don’t think it was actually dangerous for Daniel at that point.”

2016 Mexican 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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  • 20 comments on “‘Verstappen rule’ led to Vettel penalty – Whiting”

    1. I still don’t get:
      1. where is the “abnormal” change of direction by seb. he moved under braking but no “abnormal” change can be seen.
      2. how could it be dangerous. No danger as they where also turning into a slow corner.
      3. where is the evasive action by ricciardo. he was on the left and stayed there with no significant steering, only hard braking.

      the penalization was a joke and whiting keeps fooling us.

      1. as explained in the text above

        Sebastian moves to the right then in the braking zone moves to the left

        for your first point.

        The second point is covered quite clearly here as well

        “Had Daniel’s right-front hit Sebastian’s left-rear it would have been a significantly different scenario and that’s what the stewards looked at. It was a potentially dangerous situation.”

        and the Third one,

        you can see quite clearly that Daniel had to take evasive action.”

        – it was clear from already from the normal footage we saw in the race @lello4ever too.

        I must say I am disappointed by Vettel not accepting a judgement that is pretty clearly explained and exactly covers the situation with potential danger the drivers discussed only a race ago.

        1. @bascb, I actually have to agree with @lello4ever on point 2 and 3. I don’t consider those quotes from the article as worthy explanations for the requirements that Whiting lines out.

          Ricciardo held to the left side of the track, and at all times Vettel left a space for him. And like lello4ever pointed out, they were approaching a very slow corner, there was no major safety concern. Worst case they would have collided and ended their race. There must be some allowance for racing, otherwise they might as well not race at all.

          In the end I agree with the penalty though. Vettel shouldn’t have moved in the braking zone, and he should’ve known better.

          1. The newly “specified” rule are about moving in the braking area. Vettel moved to one side, then under braking moved to the other side, making Ricciardo, who was already next to him and fully commited to the move, have to lock up to avoid hitting Vettel. That is exaclty the kind of moving that was meant.

            The safety concern is not about the speed of the corner. But it got close enough to Ricciardo possibly getting airborne from “climbing over” Vettels wheel. I am quite sure that that could have been pretty dangerous.

            I agree with you that there should be some allowance for racing. But that is exactly why I was far from positive about this “clarification” being needed in the first place @me4me.

            1. Really, nobody saw that ahead of Vettel there was Verstappen?????? How should Vettel have made the corner? Verstappen in front braked earlier in the racing line, Vettel braked later to defend position and changed direction to the LEFT, avoiding Verstappen and going into a LEFT corner WHITOUT ANY DANGER for Ricciardo: did anyone see a sudden move by Ricciardo to avoid Vettel? No. I saw Ricciardo braking later that Vettel, coming into a left corner whit the steering wheel turned right (why? because of oversteering caused by his late braking) and then the two of them passed the chicane without any damage. So, where is the danger? Where is the evasive move? It’s racing, and if someone doesn’t lile it because there’s a red car doing a spectacular defense maneuver, so it’s better to whatch table tennis. Maybe it’s less dangerous if you close your eyes to avoid the ball.

        2. @bascb I’m sorry but those quotes are absolutely no proof of the points I made. If that situation is considered dangerous, then most of overtakings are. As for the evasive action, it’s supposed to be a manouvre not in continuity with the current action, like having to change your direction. that did not happen, ricciardo just had to break hard into the corner.

          1. As described above, Vettel did clearly change direction. HE moved from the left side to the right, and then when Ricciardo was going into the gap, and was next to Vettel already, he moved back over to the left

          2. I’m sick of all the so-called rules chnging every racing weekend in favour of some proteges, and double standards.
            Biz have said exactly going to what I was going to say – Verstappen brake-tested Vettel – THAT’S WHY THAT CORNER looked that slow!
            Paraphrasing the old Latin saying:
            Quod licet ruber bovi, non licet equi frementis – What is permissible for Red Bull is not permissible for a prancing horse.
            Shame on you, Charlie!
            Who in the bloody hell remember all your stupid rules?
            What I want to remember are great racing like Dijon battle between Villeneuve and Arnoux.
            ‘Why should be I be afraid of Ecclectone or Ballestre? The fans aren’t here to see the politicians or manipulators. They are coming to see me” (Gilles Villeneuve)
            What I want to see are those close battles – wheel banging, cars screaming at 300+ kph inches away from each other.
            All these ever changed rules and regulation didn’t prevent the tragic demise of Jules Bianchi, so why we need them?

      2. @lello4ever

        No danger as they where also turning into a slow corner.

        When you brake as late as you can there is no grip left to steer. In order to steer, either you ease off the brakes (and miss the apex) or you just understeer in a straight line (with Ricciardo and Vettel). Either way it is indeed dangerous if another driver crosses your braking line. Slow corners can even be more dangerous because you braker harder and longer.

        1. I think you must be looking at a different incident; you do realise they were probably doing 150mph when Seb moved left into Daniels breaking zone, the idea that an accident at that speed isn’t in the slightest bit dangerous is ridiculous.

          If you watch the onboard from Daniels car, you can see his reaction, sawing at the wheel trying to move left, away from Seb while on the limit of grip from breaking so heavily.

          1. Sorry that was meant to be a reply to @lello4ever :)

          2. if we look at the overtakings when the drivers where giving it all, each had some degree of danger as we are talking of f1 speed. still the accident here was not particularly dangerous, nothing happened between the two and ricciardo always had space to make the corner, he was not forced to turn, go onto the grass or anything.

    2. No two moves are going to be identical, so there are going to be nuances in how Vettel’s move compares to Verstappen’s at previous races that we could argue forever about the relative dangers of. But the fact is drivers complained about what Verstappen was doing, rules were put in place to prevent it, and Vettel’s move fell foul of those rules.

      1. I like the irony of the “Verstappen rule” getting Vettel a penalty. Blue flag.

    3. As I see it, Verstappen gained an advantage by taking a shortcut and was likely to get a 5 second penalty for this. If he hadn’t taken the short cut then Vettel could have been in front of him, and if so arguably got third place. Because Verstappen didn’t relent that place to Vettel, Vettel needed to stay within 5 seconds of him to get third place, and both Red Bull and Ferrari knew this. Verstappen wasn’t able to pull ahead of Vettel by more than 5 seconds in the time available, so he slowed down enough for Ricciardo to catch Vettel. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the video (I did try to find some, but it had been removed), but Red Bull had everything to gain if there was some sort of collision with Vettel. I don’t think they actually expected that to happen, but Ricciardo’s lack of skill in that corner paid off because Vettel was penalised for it, even though it was Ricciardo who showed the lack of skill by skidding and being off the racing line.
      I think this is a very poor decision by the Stewards, and it has now set a precedent: being in front and in control of your vehicle is not an excuse when you are hit by an out of control car driven with poor skill on a corner.
      As far as I can tell there isn’t any way Vettel could have stayed within 5 seconds of Verstappen and got third place, ergo Red Bull was guaranteed third place.
      I think this is the worst decision I’ve seen from the Stewards for a long time.

      1. Its alrdy been established that verstappen went flat-out so the ‘ slowed down’ part is not correct. The ferrari was faster but you need to overtake to be in front of someone, & directly behind a car will foul-up the airflow that WILL slow you down..

    4. Oh, the irony. :)

      1. Beat me to it. I was going to reply: ‘And that Ladies and Gentlemen is the true definition of IRONY.’

    5. It sounds to me, like overtaking isn’t safe at all… so why not just applying a role that prevents overtaking in the whole race? Would make the rules very simple. ;-) Why they do motorsport, if they want to drive safe?

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