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FIA clarifies overtaking rule

ESPNF1 Staff
January 5, 2012 « Williams seeks new title sponsor | Buemi named Red Bull reserve »
Michael Schumacher often returned to the racing line after defending against Lewis Hamilton at Monza © Getty Images
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The FIA has clarified the rule governing how many moves a driver can make when defending a position.

Questions were raised following the Italian Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher appeared to make numerous moves across the track in order to prevent Lewis Hamilton from passing him, often returning to the racing line after defending. It was a previously unwritten rule that drivers are only allowed to make one move, and the FIA has now entered an article in to the sporting regulations to clarify the issue.

Article 20.3 reads: "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."

Ultimately, this means that a driver can defend the inside line and then move back across to take a better line in to the following corner as long as they leave space for another car on the outside.

A new rule inserted prevents drivers from cutting out parts of the circuit "without justifiable reason" in order to avoid a repeat of Sebastian Vettel's short cut back to the pits in Korea.

Other changes see lapped cars now being allowed to unlap themselves behind the safety car, with article 40.12 permitting this whenever it is safe to do so.

"If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message "LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE" is shown on the timing monitors, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car. This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed.

"Having overtaken the cars on the lead lap and the safety car these cars should then proceed around the track at an appropriate speed, without overtaking, and take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car. Whilst they are overtaking, and in order to ensure this may be carried out safely, the cars on the lead lap must always stay on the racing line unless deviating from it is unavoidable.

"If the clerk of the course considers track conditions are unsuitable for overtaking the message "OVERTAKING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED" will be shown on the timing monitors."

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