F1 Winter Break
New rules on overtaking among F1 regulation changes for 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Dec 2011   |  6:28 pm GMT  |  165 comments

The FIA World Motor Sport Council met today in India for its traditional pre-Christmas session to finalise the calendar and rules for 2012.

The calendar is as previously published, which means that Bahrain and Austin are on. The promoters from Circuit of the Americas have therefore paid Bernie Ecclestone the outstanding payment which was due and presumably have agreed or will agree the increased terms for the contract. They have already invested $100 million in the venue, so had to decided whether to cut their losses or go in bigger.

As for Bahrain, it still remains a doubt in the minds of many of the teams and media due to attend, even if the FIA and FOM want the event to go ahead.

The most interesting thing to come out of the WMSC session was a new rule on racing wheel to wheel, in light of all the penalties and stewards decisions on tight moments this year,

“Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.”

This is a formalisation of the rule about one move to defend. If a driver makes two moves, he is blocking and that attracts a penalty.

This is an interesting twist on it, as drivers like to stay on the racing line as much as possible, especially late in the race when the build up of debris, rubber “marbles” and dirt makes driving off-line very slippery.

Already the adjustable DRS wing puts the driver trying to defend his position in a fight at a disadvantage, the car behind getting a boost of around 12km/h. Now if the defending driver is only allowed to move off line and not return back to the line, to force the opponent to use the dirty side, then he’ll get hung out to dry and the pass will be straight forward, or he’ll judge that resistance is futile and let him through without blocking.

All the measures announced today came from the Sporting Working Group, which comprised team sporting directors and team managers together with Race Director Charlie Whiting, as well as from discussions within the GP Drivers’ Association.

Other measures announced today were:

• Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests (this will lead to one or two teams missing the first test in February)

• There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated.

• Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.

• Cars which were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will now be allowed to re-join the cars on the grid in the position they were in when the race was suspended.

• Drivers may no longer leave the track without a justifiable reason, i.e. cutting a chicane on reconnaissance laps or ‘in’ laps to save time and fuel.

• One three-day test will be carried out during the season, formerly there were none. (This was originally planned to be Mugello. Since Ferrari withdrew from FOTA there is no reason for this to change but we will see)

• All stewards’ decisions which are not subject to appeal are now in one place instead of being in various places within the regulations.

• All tyres allocated to a driver may now be used on the first day of practice; formerly only three sets were permitted

This is an interesting move which means drivers can get more use out of the harder compound tyres which usually get handed back at the end of the weekend unused. This is at the behest of Pirelli which got sick of transporting tyres it knew would not get used. As engine mileage seems to be pretty comfortable, we should see some more running on Fridays as a result of this move

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Would a rule like this have helped make Dijon '79 any better?


Will it help create another thrilling battle like Dijon '79?


Will it in fact kill off the out-foxing, out-fumbling, intricate maneouvering that the master racers employed, from Nuvolari onwards?


God I'm sick of these nonsense artificial rules. Just make the cars less reliant on bloody aero and let the world's best drivers go for it.


You need to remember that the whole overtaking rule was brought on by the fans and the drivers who complained after Hamilton's weaving I believe in Malaysia 2010. Since then the FIA put the rule in place to shut everybody up. Certain drivers have been breaking the rule by claiming to be moving back to the racing line causing confusion amongst the stewards leading to inconsistences (Schumacher at Monza comes to mind).

As a result, the FIA simply had to tighten up on the rule you can't really fault them. The main culprits are actually the drivers who complain and whine on and on when they should be racing each other, and the fans who tend to wear blinkers. In all honesty, Formula 1 fans actually don't like racing as they are always the first people asking for penalties. I say let the guys race, but it's too late now isn't it?

I like the new rule however as it favours the ovartaking drivers, the new form of defence is DRIVE FASTER MATE, and I like it. No more Hamilton Massa incidents as Massa will be getting all the penalties....nice one. And no more annoying Vettel blocking off the starting line....crazy. More first corner overtaking.F1 has just become interesting again.


Couldn't agree more.

Maybe James could clarify, but I do remember hearing about reducing aero on the cars so as to increase the effectiveness of slipstreaming thus aiding overtaking.

There was a lot of talk not too long ago about reducing wings' aerodynamic effect and instead, letting the floor do most of the aero work.


We're going to see some great racing when this rule comes in. The only reason to move off the racing line is to block another driver; as the racing line is always the fastest way round the track.

If you're on the racing line and someone can overtake you then they deserve to be in front of you. End of. If you're that good, overtake them back!


Agree on that - but why nothing to prevent the infamous 'chop' at the start, which has the potential to involve the whole of the (unsighted) pack in a Las Vegas-style incident rather than just a couple of cars whose drivers know each other's abilities?


Hi James, how about asking Michael Schumacher to comment on the 1994 Verstappen cheating comments as per the link below - would also be worthy of a topic on your forum - you did a brilliant bio on Schumacher which I read but didn't put Schumacher on the spot regarding this!


Will be interesting if acoustic analysis can prove it one way or another.

Best regards,



Would be very interested to know more about this. Also to get JJ Lehto's feelings on it. He was something like 4 seconds slower than Schumacher at Monaco. He was coming back from injury, but all the same....hard to fathom


Indeed. If I were Schumacher and a team mate alleged that I was cheating with TC, I think I'd speak out and issue a statement.....

I suspect this whole affair was hushed up but you'd think a journalist would ask the Michael for his comment!!!


Vettel could be re-creating history and have a different Red Bull to Webber's lol...


Complaining about the rules whilst reminiscing about the past is so early 00's. Nothing will ever be "like it was".

Racing involves playing within the rules. If the teams are willing to accept the rules and rule changes, why can't everyone else?


You must adore traffic wardens, speed bumps and cctv then...


If the teams are willing to accept the rules and rule changes, why can’t everyone else?

Accepting the rules is a given but nobody ever said that you have to be quiet about it, thats why i love my soapbox, although things will not change it feels good to make noise about it if you don't like it.

Look at Montezemolo he knows full well that we will probably never see 3rd cars in F1 ever again, but does that ever stop him saying something about it everytime he has a MicroPhone pointed at him.


I agree with all of your comments. F1 is not just about the forefront of technology but also the "worlds best drivers" going wheel to wheel making racing exciting and at times challenging. What is exciting and challenging about waving someone through? Is this a ploy to allow the stewards job to be made easier? I'll judge it after a few races but this is the kind of rule that can ruin a championship because the other guy moved slightly back onto the racing line and is judged to have moved more than once. Bloody ridiculous!!


Schumacher's brilliant defending in Monza was possible only because of the one move defend, then going back to the racing line. This rule basically makes it illigal. In other words, with this rule, Hamilton would have breezed past Schumi at the first occasion.

Every year F1 becomes more of a farce. We want drivers FIGHTING for positions, not swapping them using devices and rules for weaklings.

I had hoped that with DRS and new tyres, overtaking would become more possible, and therefore drivers would defend more strongly. Instead we have overtaking that means nothing in most cases, and I do not experience any excitement when it does happen.


I couldn't agree more with your last sentence, Howard H, it's getting to the point where the "powers that be" are treating the highley skilled racing drivers like they are children and don't trust them to race amongst themselves unless every single aspect of racing is written down on paper with silly bloody judges making there own decisions re penalties! I suggest the drivers get together and write down some rules for the judges to adhere to!!! Motor racing is NOT black (at the risk of being shot down as racist) and white, it evolves out on the track and the winner wins! Just let them get on with it for Christ's sake. I'd be interested to know who dreamed up that rule but I bet we'll never be told, it would be too embarassing for too many people!




Fake passing did not make F1 great and it's not the road to F1's future.



Not one to wish for how it "used to be", however with everyone on that one. Let them weave until their hearts content, its the same rule for everyone. No one wants cars breezing past.

Love the safety car/backmarker rule! Too many potentially epic race re-starts have been dampened by backmarkers out of position.

Now to bring back zero fuel quali (maybe that's just me)


The Vermin would prefer refuelling to be brought back in. I always loved the guesswork of pre-2008 where drivers sat on the grid with unknown fuel loads. We could even see a roll of the dice with Massa starting on half a kilo of fuel and brand New Supersofts. Run away from Vettel in 3 laps and then do 4 super-aggresive stints on the Pirellis totally wrecking each set without any regard for tyre conservation, While Vettel does a balancing act of tyre conservation and getting the speed right.


I agree. refuelling and tires that fall apart is the way to go. I liked the guessing, I also liked the longer pit stops as it shuffled the field more. Reduce reliance on aero, stop the silly rules and maybe we could get back to non-fake, non-artificial racing...


We have zero fuel qualifying now. That came back in from 2010 when refueling was banned.

While you are correct that backmarkers get in the way, the new rule does increase the punishment to the leader, and it is likely to increase the time of each safety car period by a couple of laps, which is usually just annoying.

Also having the back markers in the way creates situations too, such as Webber and Hamilton in Singapore in 2010.


Haven't we got that already? The quali times are set on low fuel loads, the cars are only filled up going to the grid


Awful. SKY are welcome to it. F1 'racing', you know actual 'racing', has been dieing for the past 5 years. This and DRS reduces it to a cheoreographed dance, where the moves are plotted and known in advance.

I really have had just about enough of this nonsense.


I actually quite like the fact that moves can be planned in advance. Jenson on Alonso and Hamilton on Vettel were two moves that were planned at least a lap in advance. I liked that. I agree that DRS is unnecessary and that there would still be good racing without it. I am not sure about this new rule - whether it is just an attempt to clarify the one move rule, or whether it really does mean that a driver must stay off "the racing line" until after he has gone through a corner. At the very least it would stop cars turning in on an attempted pass - like massa on hamilton.


Watch the Villeneuve-Arnoux battle at Dijon in 1979 again though. Never once does either move off their normal line to keep the other car behind. This used to be the normal way of doing things in F1. If the new rule helps to bring this back then I'm all for it. Moving off line to defend your place is, in the main, a relatively recent phenomenon in F1.


Why don't they just pull out the 1979 rule book and change the heading to 2012. Let's have the old cars back and enjoy some real racing again.


Adrian Newey likes this.


Great observation about that battle. Not a single twitch out of either of them to block.


+2 Wheres the skill in overtaking when theres no defence. This makes Kobayashi sad 🙁


+3 Racing is so annoying when other cars are in the way! Why don't they switch it to a time trial and be done with it 😉


Lucky for us, Kobayashi's eyes are so small he can't see them anyway! 😉




I'll always remember Murray Walker's classic line: 'in Formula 1, catching is one thing, passing is quite another'.

So sad that this has been replaced by a need to 'encourage overtaking' at all costs. Quick fix entertainment for the casual viewer is well and truly king!

And placing MORE discretion at the hands of the stewards can only be a bad thing...



So basically the drivers are punished by being on front. Why not just clarify the rule to allow 2 moves as long as the second move is getting back on the racing line AND as long the following car's front is not yet over the leading car's rear line.


if a car is behind you and on the outside like you describe then he wouldn't be able to get past anyway (bar some miracle or mistake) - so that would be a fairly pointless addendum wouldn't it?


I was referring to the second move going back to the racing line, which means if the chasing car is on the racing line and is overlapping the leading car, the leading car cannot move back. But if there is still distance between the 2 then it's ok to move back to the racing line.


Maybe this rule was put into place for Hamilton's sake - to keep him from sticking to Massa in 2012? 🙂


No, think this was put in for Sky. As we know the viewers they target have a limited attention span.....


Well said.

What a sad state of affairs.

We're getting closer to Patrick Head's infamous 'overtaking lane' suggestion of the 1990's.


Hi James,

Any idea how they will improve the procedure of cars unlapping themselves behind the safety car? My understanding was that this was abandoned due to it taking too long.



They should just put the lapped cars through the pit lane and give them the green light when the pack has all passed. Then just say theyre all on the same lap and go racing. Or we could all sit and wait for a HRT to inch its way back round to train for 5 laps. FIA logic prevails yet again...


This is a sensible suggestion.


I used to love F1's safety car rules back in the day (I think '04 or earlier). I don't want to be nestalgic, but it seemed quick and to the point. It didn't "reset" the field, it just kept the cars at safe speed to clear off the track what needed clearing.

I would really like to know if average safety car period now (last 2 years) takes longer than similar situations at same tracks say in 2000-2004. It would take some digging, but it would be interesting if all this resetting and collecting the leader means more safety car laps.


Would it not make more sense for the lapped cars to allow cars past until they are in their rightful position, albeit a lap down and then everyone is put on the same lap. So, for example, an HRT running in 24th is lapped by the leader and no one else. Safety car comes out. The lapped car then allows all cars past until he is last on track, effectively lapped by everyone. Then they just "reset" and everyone is put on the same lap.

With the speed restriction in place when under SC conditions it's going to take forever to get everyone round again and this achieves the same result, just quicker.


It would be better - the HRTs could set a record fastest lap of 0s.

Someone will complain that this is unfair as they haven't done the full distance and not put the load on the car or had to use as much fuel. There might be a small concern about outside intervention in the lap scoring too.


I think they want to make the slower cars unlap themselves so this way they will do the distance and use the fuel just like everyone else.


Seems to makes sense, could be that it would make them another lap behind? Like instead of 1 lap behind they become 2 laps? - not really sure though


no, they would pass the lead cars and then be on the same lap, follow the course around and rejoin the parade at the back, before the safety car is brought in. Although it will take more time for this to happen, it will get them out of the way on restarts; i.e if Alonso was behind a lapped car, at the restart, he might be stuck behind it rather than taking the fight to Webber, or whoever he happens to be catching.


that is why he said lap is "reset" -- i.e. they are on same lap.


I wonder if average safety car period now takes longer than it did pre '04 when they started changing rules (I think).

I remember safety car in F1 being in/out fast, only paying attention to slowing the field for purpose of clearing track, not allowing cars to go full-speed around and field to reset possibly risking safety of marshals doing the work.


I have always thought they should have the same set of Stewards all year to ensure consistency of decisions. Charlie Whiting is the one and only Race Director, why not a set of independent stewards. Might be difficult but I am sure there will be no shortage of persons willing to do the job.


This overtaking rule is surely a joke, right? So from now on if you take a defensive line and DON'T get overtaken, you're going to be taking a much slower line through the corners?


Yeah that's right, Anil, the idea is that if the guy/driver who is trying to overtake is not successfull under braking/corner entry, then the defending guy/driver will be garunteed to be slower threw, and out of the corner, (due to his not being alowd to get back on the proper line where the grip is),(and having entered it slower due to his not being allowd to get back on the proper line where the grip is), thereby assisting the failed overtaking driver to actually overtake, and the overtaken driver is required to wave and smile at the overtaking driver to show there's no hard feelings. Yeah, sounds like fun!


Evan pre-teen kids racing karts aren't tied down by such rules and they seem to do OK!


Exactly! So the incentive becomes to not defend. Who wants to watch that!?


In fact your right, with stupid DRS in play it's probably beneficial not to defend. Let him past easy and keep your own pace up to re-pass in the DRS zone.

Why this obsession with taking the skill out of a pass? There's never been a lot of passing in f1 even before the aero era. A pass in f1 should make me shout: "check out the big balls on fernando!!!" ...or something


'Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions'

Didn't we have this a couple of seasons ago and they decided to scrap it because it was taking too long for the cars to get in the right order?


It seems that the Safety Car is out for a long period of time anyway these days, might as well use the extra 2 laps for the slow guys to unlap themselves.

Only now do I realise that I really prefered the old rule, in wet weather when Race Director let cars unlap we watched their Sector Times and these would indicate whether or not the track was good to go racing.

These days we run arround until Charlie is super super sure that it is safe and his job is safe which sometimes lasts forever.


This new rule on overtaking is complete garbage. I'm curious to know what former F1 champions feel about this. In the meantime, we should prepare ourselves for the dullest season in F1 history.


The words "Great pass!" are history. Replaced by "Alonso rolls over to let Vettel through."


I'll have to wait to see how it pans out, but I imagine this has to give the leading driver less incentive to defend.

Drivers like Michael know just where to place the car to make it awkward for other drivers (no quips about Monaco qualifying please) - this is a key driver skill IMO, and I think we'll see less of it as leading drivers remain glued to the racing line as if they're on rails.

Won't this just going to make it even easier for the fastest cars to get back to the front?


With you Andy. We might be seeing a whole lot of turn in accidents in 2012 when the guy in front just stays on the racing line and turns in as normal as he can't defend and come back into line


Are they not aiding drivers Abit to much with overtaking?

We need to get back to the days when it wasn't all about aerodynamics, but more about driver skill and the engines.


Agreed. But the best minds are working on this and they still haven't solved the problem. What do you suggest?


How about a standardised front or rear wing, where everybody has the exact same part?

Just a thought, what else could be done?


How about streamers glued to the wings, the cars with Streamers that move about the most are the cars that disturb the air the most and then these cars should get a drive thru at half distance.


I always had the idea that the FIA could somehow measure the turbulence of air behind a car in the wind tunnel and limit the amount that its allowed to disturb the air behind it. Don't know how possible or quantifiable it would be though...


So until how many corners do drivers need to wait before they take the racing line. Can James explain?


Yes, exactly. What if the front driver doesn't cover the 'inside line', but drives down the middele of the track? That doesn't really fit either scenario, does it?

The rule, at least reproduced by James in his text, also makes no mention how long this lasts for. Does it only last until the middle of the corner being contested? Or does the driver who has elected to block/cover the inside MUST remain on the inside all the way until past exiting the corner?

This seems like a silly rule change to me.


This Rule has come about a bit late, It would have really helped things at Spa in 2008.

THat Ferrari moved like 3 times or something.


Congratulations to the Austin owners for trying to make that race happen & who knows, that circuit may just prove to be an all time classic for you know that old saying...

''Things that have a bad start, usually end up being great''

As for Bahrain, that's one major bargaining chip the protestors got, which they can pull out every year so I too have my reservations.

Aah pretty frustrating that the incompetent FIA always ban illegal car parts & on-track moves after the event. So Schumi in Monza was really blocking according to the 2012 rules, only wish the FIA were this considerate after Spa 2008!

In my view, not going back to the racing line is a good change for it will create more wheel to wheel racing (in equally matched cars) for with Charlie Whiting reducing the DRS zones next year, get ready to see cars go side by side in breaking zones

Also, I applaud the re-introduction of the rule making the monkeys-at-the-back unlap themselves, for we all know those are pretty stubborn chaps that never look in their mirrors, so yes this too will help with the racing.


Goferet, I consider you referance to "the monkeys at the back" to be in EXTREMELY BAD TASTE! I think you should appologise to them!



"Congratulations to the Austin owners for trying to make that race happen & who knows, that circuit may just prove to be an all time classic"

It could be Korea 2.


How will it encourage wheel to wheel racing? It will do the complete opposite, and make what little 'racing' we get completly sterilised.


If I was racing under these rules and in the leading car (I wish), on approaching e.g. a left-hand corner and with someone bearing down on me with his DRS open, I'd place my car towards the centre but still with the outside wheels sufficiently on the racing line as to make it impossible for him to get past me on the outside. I would then be covering almost two car's width of the track and be in a good position possibly to undercut the other driver on the exit, since he would inevitably be slower on the bend from that inside line.

There's nothing in this rule about the overtaking driver either. If he can get far enough past me, is he then allowed to swerve in front of me, even if he has weaved behind me while making up his mind which side to have a go? Seems only the lead driver is penalised now, it must be a crime to lead. Silly me, I thought that was the point.

Also, if he misjudges the gap on the outside, or attempts to force past me and puts two wheels off track, am I then penalised for making another car go off-track? There's a bit of mileage in this rule yet.


@ Spinodontosaurus

Well look at it this way!

With shorter DRS zones on hand, drivers would be forced to take the racing line or the dirty line thus creating a situation where drivers in equally matched cars are racing in and out of corners = Good action!


= fake action, you mean.


The change that makes me happiest is the one stating cars can unlap themselves during safety car periods. Several times this year we missed out on what would have been some really good restarts because the front runners were separated by backmarkers.

As for the ruling that a car can make a move away from the racing line but not back what they are saying is that you can no longer defend. Just like with DRS they are giving preference to the driver behind, removing more skill from the art of overtaking.

Good move for the friday sessions, hopefully increase running and data collection. Would have liked to see three tests throughout the season though, one after the first flyaways, one at the mid season break and another at an unused track during the final flyaways. With race drivers only allowed to drive on one day of the test.


I disagree about the testing being introduced in the manner that has been re-introduced. Why not limit the tests to 2 tests during the season which teams can use at their own discretion. What if McLaren need to sort out MP4-27 in the early part of the season, they could call up their 3 day test session much earlier in the year in an attempt to catch up and find performance. I don;t agree with formalising the test to a single pre-determined date.


The way I understand it the standard test days make it cheaper to test with each team paying x amount towards hiring the track for the duration rather than each time hiring tracks separately.

I agree though that it would be better to allow 'wildcard' testing with teams deciding when they most need it. Would add another layer of strategy with teams working out when best suits them.


I disagree on the lapped cars rule. Overtaking backmarkers is part of racing and, if a random event puts your rival right behind you not only losing the time gap but also track position is as artificial racing as it can be. Leave it to NASCAR !


Spot on. The safety car is there for the safety of the marshals, not to "improve" the racing. If you have a back-marker between you and the guy you're chasing when the safety car goes in, it can only be because the back-marker was there before the safety car came out. I don't see what's wrong with that.


That was my thought originally as well, I thought that it was more artificial advantage to the leading cars. But having experienced it I have changed my mind. What could have been closely thought restarts have actually led to an increased lead. With the gap between the back markers and the frontrunners so big, letting the back markers unlap themselves should lead to closer racing between equal cars throughout the field without impeding too much. At the end of the day, as soon as the safety car period ends the blue flags come out anyway.


With the new '1 move only ' rule.. i see it being Massa's,MSC and webbers last year in F1. As these three find it hard to defend without being all over the track.


It's a shame that they haven't done anything about cars qualifying in the top 10 and then not going out and setting a timed lap. In my opinion, if they qualify they must run in order to preserve the show.


agreed. if a car doesn't run they should be given a 5 place drop penalty. Stewards should also be able to determine if an attempt at a proper lap time was made. If not, again a 5 place drop.


Maybe the solution is that, unless there is any kind of precipitation during Q3, any driver who qualifies in Q3 in a time slower than say P11, P12, P13 etc from Q2 will forfeit their Q3 rights and P11 from Q2 will be promoted to P10 etc.

This then forces P10, P9 etc from Q2 to make genuine attempts (even if it is to sort out their own mid-field battle) to qualify with an all out effort in Q3.


The overtaking rule is a joke. Would be impossible to defend.

The rest of the rules seems good. I like them. I hope they will work and help the racing.


Interesting, IIRC the race in Canada this year would not have been restarted, or at least would have been cut short because of the new rule on total race time being limited to 4 hours even with red flag conditions. It's impossible to say if another race like that could ever occur again, but having been there for Button's epic win, I'm just glad I got to see it run through to its conclusion rather than being artificially limited by new rules.


Agreed, in Australia I ended up staying up till well past dawn watching the Canadian GP, but I will never forget it!!!!

Imagine if a finale, a one point decider, is ever cancelled under this pathetic unnessasary rule....


"- Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions."

Wonderful. Looooonger safety car periods. 🙁

Speaking of safety cars, I could write a book about what's wrong with them... For example, I wish there was a rule in the regulations that said something like: "If the safety car is leading the field as the white flag is shown, it MUST also lead the field across the checkered flag." Why does the Safety car peel into the pits at the end of the final lap? I can remember 2 times this has happened: Once in Australia and once in Monaco. The only thing that's going to happen is either confusion (See Michael & Alonso in Monaco) or likely an accident where some drivers are getting on the gas, while others are still cruising around at safety car speeds. As I was typing this, I was still a bit confused on the rule. If the Safety Car leaves the track... wouldn't you think that the race is now on? I mean technically there's 500m or so between the safety car line and the finish line that you could use to make a daring pass... Why wouldn't Schumi think that he could overtake Alonso in Monaco? But no... the rule is that there's no overtaking. BUT, you still have most the drivers gunning it out of the final turn to speed up toward the finish line. "Just in case" is my guess as to what's going on in the driver's minds. It's so obviously ridiculous! Why has this rule not been changed?

I also really hope we see less laps run behind the safety car in rain next year. I understand that this was the first year of a new tire supplier, and they didn't have too much 'full wet' data to go on, but they really dropped the ball being TOO careful with safety car usage in the rain. Canada was a comedy of errors from not having a standing start, to leaving the Safety Car out far too long after the red flag period. I was laughing so hard when the drivers that came in to pit for Intermediates while the safety car was still out were punished with drive-throughs when the conditions were CLEARLY already good enough for them. Charlie, sometimes you just crack me up.

"- There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated."

What about qualifying? Remember Brazil 2009? 2 hours 41 minutes!


Ross Brawn told his drivers to "go for it" in Monaco. Schumacher pulled off the overtake and Rosberg nearly did too just before the flag.


Why not go just a tiny bit further and ban overtaking altogether?


I think you have the wrong end of the stick mate, they are trying to promote overtaking. I can think of at least one example in 2011 when the rule would have helped, when Hamilton was trying to overtake Schumacher at Monza, and Schumacher kept moving once to block, then moved back onto the racing line to make the Ascari chicane. It deserved a penalty at the time and indeed prompted Ross Braun to come on the radio and tell Schumacher to only make one move!


It promotes passing, not overtaking.


You mean ban defending an overtake?


I hope the time limit doesn't mean they could red flag a race after an hour of racing, have a 3 hour red flag and so no resumption... though it actually does mean that


And so with this raft of rule changes does F1 finally appear to have grasped the essence of what might be improved and made definitive efforts to address these shortcomings?

No. Me neither.


Hi James,

Has there been any discussion on trying to tweak the rules so as we don't have the scenario of teams not bothering to set a time in a Quali session (mainly Q3).

I was thinking something simple like a 5 place grid drop for any car not within 110% of the pole time in Q3 (prevents them just doing a lap coasting) might work.

It just annoys me when this happens, although I fully understand why it does under the current rules and regulations.

Great work by the way, I'm checking every day for new articles on here, relying on it to get me though the winter 🙂



Posters on this site are complaining about rules that just improve the spectacle, not the racing (overtaking, DRS, lapped cars under SC, etc), yet this practice ultimately improves the racing, doesn't it?


It's all about quality of the overtake. Overtaking a fast car is more exciting than simply passing a slower car. It also goes for defence. Passing Schumacher is more of an accomplishment, because he will never make it easy for you.

These rules make the slower cars in front sitting ducks effectivly. Unless DRS is seriously scaled down next year, the season will soon become a farce.


I think there are two reasons that nothing needs to be done about that.

First, I don't see it as a problem. If you look at qualifying as a whole, the guys who stay in the garage in Q3 have invariably done just as many laps as the top guys, because they made more runs to get through the earlier sessions. They're not "short-changing" the fans any more than the top teams are when they make one run on the hard tyres in Q1.

Second, even if you do consider it a problem, there's no reason to assume it will happen next year. It happened this year because there was a large gap in performance between the top 4 teams and the rest. So whoever scraped into Q3, be it Force India, Torro Rosso or Renault, would know they'd be on row 5 whatever they did. The spread of the field might be different next year and if there's close competition for rows 3, 4 and 5 on the grid, then I don't think we'd see people settling for row 5 in the same way.


I totally agree - perhaps to simplify it, the 107% rule should apply for all segments of qualifying, not just Q1?


This flies in the face of common sense and safety. Cars about to get lapped are typically those at the back end of the grid, where--comparitively speaking--the least talented drivers and least drivable (read: safe) cars are to be found.

Allowing these drivers to circulate on their own recognizance a track which has already been declared unsafe, and to do so at a faster speed than the safety car or any other vehicle on the track, is nonsensical.

The correct solution is quite simple. Everybody lines up behind the safety car, and before the restart, cars about to be lapped pull over and allow those lapping them to pass, at a certain predefined safe point (or points) on the track.

Why do the FIA always have to do everything in the least logical way?


I was going to say the exact same thing. Surely it would be safer and quicker for the lapped cars to drop back down the order into the correct position. They should then give the lapped cars 1 lap back so they have effectively caught back up without wasting so much time


Well, that's not really the exact same thing, but yeah, understood. Personally, I wouldn't give a lap back, because the point is, we're talking about cars that were about to be lapped anyway. Hence all you're doing is getting the lapping out of the way in a manner that affects the individual drivers as little as possible


change the overtaking rule to be "defending cars need to move aside and let the attacking car go through"

This rule is a farce!


All the new regulations of the last few years have now pretty much killed the art of defending, with this being the last nail.

Was nice knowing you, the art of defending, hello artificial 'racing' letting each other pass with a red carpet rolled out while having a mechanical advantage dictated by race control.


Not a big fan of the new overtaking rules, Just let them race, Im tired of all the meddling, restrictions, overtaking zones & penalty's we get now.

We saw the best racing when there was none of these silly rules & restrictions.

What next an Indycar style 'lead car can not do anything to move offline to defend' rule?


I think with this new overtaking rule, Race stewards won't find enough time to investigate every illegal blocking. It will be massive number of overtaking/blocking cases to investigate along the other investigations in every race.


On the plus side, we'll probably spend the whole of the 2012 off-season wondering who really is the 2012 WDC. Hopefully they'll sort it out by Melbourne 2013.


Would have liked to see all drivers in Q3, having to do a minimum numbers of laps, or face having a penalty attached to them. After all we pay to see all 10 cars out on the track in Q3, and if 2 or 3 of them want to save tyres, then they don’t go out, which means in a way they have cheated the public to see them race for positions.

It also may mean that they know they haven’t a chance of winning and therefore look to pick up points instead. This should be discouraged.


So, looks like BTCC for me next year then - see some real driving as opposed to the sanitised offerings Bernie and Charlie et al wants to feed us


Again, Bernie has absolutely NOTHING to do with this, why do people always blame him for things?

This is by the FIA (Bernie is not FIA in any way), FOTA and the drivers and some 'fans' who clearly don't like to see racing and the art of defending.


Because like it or not Bernie is always there, behind the scenes, pulling strings, Chinese whispering, ducking and diving like a former car salesman, loan financer he is.



agree with some comments on here already... really wish they had done something about people sitting out of Q3 to save tires and have option of which tire to start on. 2010 I usually watched quali more often than the race because the fast lap shootouts were always so exciting and watching someone cross the line on top to just barely be pipped. This year I got pretty tired of seeing the odd midfield team getting into Q3 to just watch from the sidelines and let Redbull, Mclaren, and Ferrari fight for pole every weekend.

Also ready to see lots of blocking penalties next year as I dont see a single driver being "ok" with letting the pursuing driver past, because now to legally defend they have to compromise their line through the corner even more.

Very excited to see the kids could stop squabbling on the playground and that the Austin race is back on track. I am way too excited about this race for them to keep playing games like this.


This is fantastic for overtaking and well overdue. No longer can a driver now run another out of room and claim they were entitled to take that line, or that the other driver dived down the inside. This is how racing should be - that the racing line is the black strip between the white lines, not the bit of track you specifically want to be on to take the corner the fastest IF you weren't two abreast.


Racing is about not defending? And just letting a guy pass you because his car, even though way behind you, is in the alleged racing line?

The world has gone bonkers.


No it is not. Defending by blocking is a relatively new part of F1. Just watch some of the old classics, you rarely see the degree of blocking you have now, because you could easily get killed in an accident. With the cars much safer now people are taking more risks.


Hi James,

Seems to be alot of negative comments about the overtaking rule but to be honest I can see quite some benefit in it, ie a car that has gotten a better exit from a corner will be more likely to be able to make an overtaking move stick.

It seems to me that this is the sort of rule that hasnt just appeared from thin air and is likely based on past incidents. Perhaps you might be able to review some examples of situations in the 2011 races where this rule would have had an impact, and what that impact would have been?


Schuey v Hamilton in Monza springs to mind


Hamilton/Button Canada comes to mind. Button would be penalised.

Hamilton/Kobayashi Spa. Hamilton would be penalised under the new rule.


I assume that the 'one move' rule still doesn't apply on the first few corners, the most dangerous time to be weaving all of the track?


The final irony is this nonsense no racing rule is implemented due to Hamiltons numerous failed attempts to get past the likes of Massa, Schumi or Kobayashi this year. His fans always say he is the only racer amongst drivers and now real racing in F1 is basically outlawed thanks to him.


How about if we just have some special 'passing lanes' painted on the track and you cannot change between them if the DRS device has confirmed someone is less than 1 sec behind you?

Or how about some slots? If there were only 2 slots running around the track and only limited places to switch between them these problems would be eliminated!


these rules are as stupid as they can get!!!

i cant believe these people are highly technical.

just get rid of the semi-automatic gear box and throw a manual stick there....good old senna days...then we will know who IS THE DRIVER


what a bunch of crybabies.

The new rule is to stop blocking.Bravo!


What about making cars that are worked on during red-flag periods start from the pitlane (or the back of the pack) at the restart?

Didn't we learn anything from the drama at Monaco and Montreal?


Why don't they order some new, giant Scaletrix circuits? Every driver would get their own "line" and that will end the overtaking problem...


I had to read this several times before it sank in, I simply couldn't believe what I was reading. You don't suppose Sky have had an imput on this 🙂 next it will be a mandatory pit stop for all cars at half distance to allow for an ad break, probably amended to 3 mandatory stops by 2014. And how long before we get the obligatory safety car 10 laps from the end to ensure an exciting made for TV finish to every race?

Seriously, in my opinion F1 is getting too clinic and artifical, a better solution might have been to penalise "dangerous" driving more heavilly and more consistantly and let the guys race.


I don't understand what all of these people are complaining about. The ones bitching about the rules are probably the same ones that thought Shumy demonstrated good defense in Monza against Hamilton. Get a clue!! I welcome the rule. Far too many times we've seen drivers move to cover the inside line and then suddenly move back to the racing when the trailing car is about to pass them. A good defender should commit to the outside or inside line, and stick to that line from corner entry all the way to corner exit.


Yes, exactly. Schumi DID demonstrate good defense in Monza, and now the FIA is basically giving all the fastest cars free passing. This new rule is garbage.


Re the unlapping : I give it two races and the rule will be re-abolished as (1) non-achievable in a reasonable timeframe and (2) dangerous to marshalls etc as lapped cars speed around to try to get back to the back of the pack asap.

Re one-move-defending :

So this means that the lead car moves to the inside of the track to block. He then must stay there. That means that the overtaking car has to go around the "outside" and the two come together at the true entry to the corner with the over-taking car almost-certainly to be punted or eased-off the racing line. Yeah, real smart.

Further, when the cars exit a corner onto a straight, doesnt this rule mean that the leading car basically has to decide immediately if he wants to think about defending as any move to left or right cannot be undone ALL the way along the straight toward the next corner ?

I expect to see LOT of leading cars simply sitting in the middle of the track hedging their bets !

Alan Li from Toronto, Canada

Well what can I say...the FIA WMSC takes another step to kill off the "racing" part of the championship, and makes it more like NASCAR (which is just entertainment without any racing) or, even worse, video games!! Now I wonder if I am still interested in watching the new season comes March 2012


the wheel to wheel racing rule will making overtaking too easy and it will beocme a non event like in indy car racing


I'm staggered that the qualifying rules haven't been changed to deal with the amount of drivers who don't bother going on track in Q3, electing to save tyres instead.

All sorts of things they could have done, from providing extra tyres to penalising no-shows.


Cricket - dumbed down with 20/20 to make it "more entertaining". Snooker - dumbed down with Power Snooker to make it "more entertaining" and now F1 dumbed down with choreographed overtaking to make it "more entertaining". If I want to be entertained, I'll go to a pantomime - I want to see some sport!!!!!


I don't think the overtaking rules need tinkering with any further. This season got the balance pretty much spot on. Yes there were a couple of dull races where cars couldn't overtake, but in a sport you have to accept that some events won't be thrilling. Certainly the races this year were probably the most exciting since the 80s.

The only thing they really need to look at is the penalties. I mean, if cars are now able to overtake then accidents will happen by the sheer nature of having cars at high speed going side by side. I find it really frustrating where every bit of contact always results in a blame game. Sometimes they actually need to put some of these contacts down to racing incidents.


“Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.”

I can think of at least one example in 2011 when the rule would have helped the race, when Hamilton, in a slightly faster car, was trying to overtake Schumacher at Monza, and Schumacher kept moving once to block, then moved back onto the racing line to make the Ascari chicane. It deserved a penalty at the time (but didn't get one) and indeed prompted Ross Braun to come on the radio and tell Schumacher to only make one move!


I think the overtaking rule has been brought about by some of the drivers insisting on taking the racing line while defending as if the other car doesn't exist. Sure its the most optimum line when you're all by yourself, but in an overtaking situation, I would have thought the priority would be to avoid an accident cause it doesn't help either of the involved parties. Sure there has been the odd over-optimistic dive from the overtaking driver, but most of the time defending has been ridiculous in the name of taking the racing line.

Some of the younger drivers are particularly to blame. We have see the likes of Button, Alonso, Webber race side by side plenty of times without hitting one another. With a bit more mutual respect and common sense, such rules wouldn't be needed.


“Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.”

This rule is a load of rubbish. If you're not allowed to move back to the racing line for corner entry you WILL get passed either:

a.) By having to brake earlier on the dirty side of the track. (someone around the outside of you)

b.) On corner exit as the corner will be considerable sharper if you're not taking the racing line entry.

c.) The entry to said corner maybe so sharp that you end up off the track.

A silly silly rule for those who don't appreciate the art of defending a position. The skill and judgement shown by some drivers who know how to do this will be lost from the sport. I've always found the one move to defend before returning to racing line (unless there is a car present a'la HAM KOB) absolutely fine.



Maybe if the race could be divided up into stages, like in a rally, we could get rid of the hindrance of having to have more than one car on track at the same time!

It looks like this is the only way to prevent the actual fastest driver being held back by other cars, sometimes which have a similar pace. Which can lead to racing. And we don't want that, do we?


I suppose there have to be rules to follow otherwise decision making in respect of an incident becomes difficult, but it is getting to the stage where participating in F1 is like boxing in a straight jacket. Personally for minor incidents I'm all for calling them racing incidents and let them race on. For example Senna's drive through for the incident with Schumacher at Brazil was ridiculous. The whole thing is becoming so artificial and constrained I wonder what ever happened to pure racing which is certainly not what F1 is.


The Iceman’s favourite words comes to mind – “Let’s wait and see what happens”.

While I do not like how every incident on track seems to end up with a penalty (what happened to “racing incident”?) I think a clear rule is better than one that can be subjectively interpreted.

What if the outcome of the “one move” rule is that the slower car simply stays in the racing line forcing its challenger to dive on the inside, go round on the outside or getting the tyres dirty on a straight – is that not good racing?


“Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.”

That's just crazy - this is supposed to be racing. I want to see lots of on-track action, but defending a position and the battle dramas that unfold are more exciting than just watching one car pass another.

It's another lost driver skill. They may aswell abandon the season and award the titles to whoever produces the fastest car in March.


Dear James,

We have seem this year many good races and some dull ones, but as you said the DRS rule is not perfecto but has added some spice, but i can´t understand the FIA penalising drivers for defend themselves, i´m even againts a rule dictating how many moves you can do to avoid overtaking, that´s the nature of racing, speed and overtaking habilities, all drivers know the dangers involved in racing and most surely they have clauses in their contracts were the teams don´t have any liabilities in case of an accident due to driver responsability, therfore drivers are willing to risk their life for the love of racing, so why the FIA applies this nonsense rule if already we had a limitation on defending moves?


I suspect the revised blocking rule has more to do with reducing controversy over stewards' decisions and increasing clarity for television than any sporting consideration.

I'm going to reserve judgement. We could see a different style of defence, where the lead driver takes and maintains a line just far enough off the accepted line to block the overtake without actually weaving even once. I seem to recall Berger used to be very good at this type of driving.

Alternatively, a blind adherence to the racing line could lead to endless collisions and arguments about at what point an overtaking car is considered to have right to the racing line.

Hey, we could have a new rule for 2013: "the following car is deemed to have choice of racing line if its front wheel nut is level with or ahead of the rear wheel nut of the preceding car, the measurement to be in relation to an imaginery line from the centre of the front car's wheel nut to the nearest track-limiting white line at a 90 degree angle to the latter"! This to be replaced, following much argument over flexing protractors, in 2014 by "at the end of the DRS zone, the leading car must take a line along the outer circumference of the following corner"!!


Glad to hear about the new Safety Car restart rules. As a Button fan, I've been frustrated over restart traffic multiple times these past two years.

Mohammed Al-Momen

Dear James,

Doesn't this overtaking rule make it harder for the guy in front to keep his position? I mean with DRS and KERS do we need this rule? we want overtaking but we don't want it to be simple move out of the way thing.


"• Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests.)"

We're looking at you, Hispania!



I think of Imola, 2005, Schumi, hunting Alonso... surely we will now lose epic battles if effectively a car moves once.

These are the best drivers in the world, safety has to come first, but I think this is a bit of a sad day. That day at Imola was some of the greatest defending I've ever seen!

Your take?


My take is in the original piece, I think it's a shame and I hope it doesn't spoil the racing

Joakim Hermansson

There's a lot of comments here as well as on other various forums about this rule change. They're all pretty much saying the same thing, that this is a shame and a move in the wrong direction. How do we notify the WMSC of the fans opinion on this the best way possible? How to try and make a difference?


And with this new rule... F1 turns into WRC (a time trial)


There is a nice spot on 'boot hill' next to the WRC grave...

With the coverage moving to Sky- would the last person to leave, please turn out the lights.


The David Vs Goliath element is being removed from F1. It's the end of Man Vs Machine racing as we know it.

I feel particularly bad for the owners of the highly enjoyable "F1 Racing" magazine, because with this new racing line rule, the name of the magazine will surely have to change to "F1 passing out" instead.


How about this: each driver will carry a long pole (no, not "Pole") and when a following driver can reach out and tap the leading car with it, said leading car must yield right-of-way.


All I can say is I hope we are all proved wrong although I think it is unlikely with this ridiculous new overtaking rule. Doesnt make any sense at all, what were they thinking??? Mind you at this rate won't be seeing many races anyway having checked how much Sky tv would cost a month, complete joke. Even with this strange new overtaking rule will be gutted to have to miss races.


James, you are the man, the man with the contacts. How about passing all this feedback, or is its raw anger and disappointment, to some one in F1 who might actually care. Because right now, it looks like some one has completely lost their way here, and is poisoning the well.

I have been a committed follower of F1 for well over 20 years, it has been in my life for over 30. But James, I don't know what this is any more. I really don't.

Half of it has been put out of most peoples financial reach in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s, the rules are turning it in to IRL with fake DRS over taking, the abolition of defensive driving, I think we all know that now RBR will spend mega bucks, and Vettel is already the 2012 WDC. Even in the Schumacher years, before the season started it felt like some one else could challenge, and he often did have to work for it. It was never as sterile as this season has been. Finally we get the stake through the heart that is the high likely hood that the Murdoch empire will eventually own the sport lock stock and barrel.

Never, ever has F1 been in such a sorry state. What happened? Where is my F1?

Seriously, I'm that close to wearing a black arm band with "RIP F1" on it.

Oh, I do have Sky, the whole damn lot, sports movies, blah, blah. I may well actually cancel it. I'll tell them why. They wont care, but at least I wont be funding it, and I can lose that chav dish scaring my lovely house.

Yeah, bitter and mournful, most of all, gutted.


People in F1 do monitor the comments on here, so it does get seen and taken note of


Strangely enough, they usually do the opposite thing

SC rule was tried before and failed. SC periods just went on and on for at least 5-7 laps to sort the cars out. Even to only remove a piece of debris from the track.

I rather see smaller front wings, so they won't clip rear tires like they have this season. I guess this season has shown us the most broken wings ever.

Why don't they have 3 set compounds from te start of the season. Hard-medium-soft. Bring it to every race (3-4 sets each type for the weekend for example) and abolish the rule of using more than one compound in the race. That brings forth the dodgy Q3 qualifying.


It will be interesting to see how the stewards define the words "move" when deciding if a car has moved more than once.

Would it mean :

(a) moved a complete car-width

(b) moved a half-width

(b) moved a half-width, paused and maintained straight-head, then moved a further half-width

And then you add-in issues where straights are wider than the corner-entry meaning that a car must move across. Where does the measurement come from ?

I also recall a couple of drivers saying that they couldnt see the car behind them due to spray or vibrating mirrors : as such, they blocked unknowingly. Penalty will apply ?

Race 1 will be very interesting indeed, I feel rather sorry for the stewards !


As for the SC unlapping, I think a better solution would be to force lapped cars to cycle through the pits just before the restart. This avoids any unfair advantage and also leaves them out of the way of the leaders.


I think my own racing and passing moves are better to watch on my XBOX than what's going come in F1 2012 lol...


Absolutely agree what a load of crap!!

BTW best move of the year goes to Mark Webber on Alonso Spa going up to Eau Rouge-breathtaking!


Truly a sad state of affairs with this daft one move rule. As far as I can tell I've never heard a fan complain about being allowed to move back onto the racing line, so why on earth are they even doing this, what is the motivation? This is becoming an express pass to overtaking, ie, just draft, DRS and pass, rather than the back and forth of a complex move.

We want some continuity. Why on earth should I as a fan bother with F1 statistics of seasons past when the rules are so different now? I still miss refueling. If someone asked me to predict a new rule that would come into play, I'd never predict this. Why fix something that isn't broken?


I like to see guys racing each other, and I like to see cars being able to pass one another as well - without it often ending in tears. That is the number one problem in my view, the cars are so dependant on aero that if they lose any bits thats the end of their race. If the cars were even slightly more rugged so to speak then the cars could race side to side with more impunity. what I hate the most is cars trailing round after each other lap after lap because they are after good points, and do not want to risk gaining a place at the expense of a pitstop to repalce a wing:-) Maybe play around with the points structure again?


overall nice rules, but the overtaking one? What about letting the drivers race without fake aids and rules to punish the driver that is in front? Whatever happened to reduce aero grip and increase mechanic grip to allow more overtaking? I wonder if anyone is considering just flashing the blue light wether you are about to be lapped or if are actually racing? May as well do that as they are making it almost impossible for the guy in front to defend.


You're all basically arguing that the leading car should have the right to block the trailing car. Most if not all drivers are going to like this new rule. In an F1 car, if the car in front leaves the line then suddenly darts back to the racing line while you're in the breaking zone, you lose downforce, lose breaking power, and can potentially ram the car in front. How can you guys be OK with that? I think some of you have proper "defending" and "blocking" mixed up.

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