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FIA Faces Pressure for Better Clarity in Racing

Wolff and Brown Demand Clearer FIA Racing Rules

06/07/2024

Amidst growing tensions, Wolff and Brown urge the FIA to enforce clearer, more consistent racing regulations.

Toto Wolff believes the FIA should clarify the rules of engagement and on-track battling following the incident between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris. The Mercedes F1 Team Principal has criticised the inconsistency of decisions on the matter and is calling for more clarity from the federation.

“Max drives the way he drives,” stated Wolff. “Verstappen is tough and he pushes as far as the rules allow. It just needs to be discussed, but this applies to all drivers because we see it with others as well.”

“If you look at the battles in the Alpines, or with Tsunoda or Magnussen for example. Many drivers go so far that some say it’s too much or unfair. I think we just need to clarify: what are the rules? It was allowed in 2021, what do we do with it now? Yes, the FIA needs to act.”

The race direction explained at the start of the weekend that it would treat each incident according to the conditions in which it occurs. A subjective element that could lead to even more grey areas.

“The FIA has made significant efforts over the last two years to develop what it calls driving standards that it wants to incorporate into the international sporting code to apply to all its categories.”

“These standards were developed after consultation with teams and drivers, to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding what is allowed and what is not.”

“These guidelines are not yet officially in the regulations, but teams were informed as early as February that they would serve as the basis for the stewards’ decision-making in case of a potential infringement.”

The guidelines are stated as follows: “In defense, there must be no change of direction by the defending car after the start of the deceleration phase, except to follow the racing line.”

As often happens, the FIA adds exceptions that allow something that is formally prohibited under normal circumstances, with a level of subjectivity that the stewards fully assume.

“The responsibility lies with the stewards”

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren F1, also insists that the FIA needs to be clearer about racing incidents like this. According to him, it’s up to the federation and the stewards to ensure that Verstappen changes his driving style.

“We are obviously concerned about what happened last weekend, but that was last weekend,” Brown explained to Sky Sports F1. “Andrea and I are handling it to ensure the rules are applied consistently.”

“But Lando knows the situation is quite difficult and he needs to position himself to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But I think the responsibility lies more with the stewards, who need to be more consistent in their application of the regulations.”

“Until someone tells Max that what he’s doing is not in line with the regulations – and I don’t blame Max, he’s driving to the limit, he’s a world champion – and what he’s doing is not correct, I don’t expect him to drive differently. We need a bit more consistency when it comes to the stewards.”

Brown insists that Verstappen had no need to move when he did: “I think Anthony Davidson did a fantastic job demonstrating very clearly what happens during braking.”

“If it had been pointed out earlier, the incident might not have occurred. After several braking manoeuvres, there should have been a [black and white] flag, then a penalty, and perhaps the minor contact they had would never have happened.”

Wolff and Brown Demand Clearer FIA Racing Rules

FIA Faces Pressure for Better Clarity in Racing FIA Faces Pressure for Better Clarity in Racing

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