Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting has confirmed that the ‘Verstappen rule’ regarding moving under braking has been relaxed and simplified ahead of the 2017 season.
Following complaints from a number of drivers regarding Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s aggressive defensive moves through 2016, the FIA clamped down on moving under braking ahead of the United States Grand Prix last October.
Sebastian Vettel was the first driver to fall foul of the new rule, losing his podium finish in Mexico after moving under braking when defending his position from Daniel Ricciardo late in the race.
In order to streamline the race stewards’ efforts to officiate the race, Whiting confirmed ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix that the rule had been simplified and turned into a ‘catch-all’ regulation.
“I think there will be a small change in some of the incidents that we’ve seen last year they’ll be handled quite differently simply, because the so-called ‘Verstappen rule’ is gone to the effect that before we said any move under braking will be investigated,” Whiting told reporters, as quoted by crash.net.
“Now, we have a simple rule that says effectively that if a driver moves erratically or goes unnecessarily slow or behaves in a manner that could endanger another driver, then he will be investigated.
“So there’s a very broad rule now but we’ve done after Austin last year in response to some comments from drivers, we used the existing rules to put notes on how we’re going to interpret the existing rules.
“The interpretation simply was that drivers shouldn’t move under braking. That’s what gave rights to the incident in Mexico, that’s what gave rights to the penalty in Mexico.”
Whiting said that the move came after teams requested the stewards trigger less snap investigations during races and focus on possibly dangerous incidents.
“What we were requested to do, which we think is a more general way of approaching things, is to give the stewards one rule to work with,” Whiting explained.
“It’s an all-encompassing rule.You can do more or less anything with that. That was the request from the teams, they wanted less investigations and only in cases where it was clearly dangerous would they take action.
“We had a meeting yesterday with all the stewards and we reviewed all the controversial incidents from last year to see how they would be dealt with this year under the so-called new rules or the new approach. It was quite interesting. I won’t go into it now, but it was quite interesting.”
The revised rule will get its first try-out in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, live on NBCSN from 12am ET on Sunday.