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F1 NEWS 

FIA to back off on Formula 1 driver collision investigations

Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez collision, Bahrain GP 2014

The FIA is ready to ease back on driving standard investigations from the Austrian Grand Prix to make Formula 1 drivers more willing to battle hard, AUTOSPORT has learned.

Amid ongoing discussions between the sport's key players aimed at improving the show, the perception that drivers are getting discouraged from making overtaking moves because they are worried about penalties for minor contact was aired.

Sources have revealed that during this week's Formula 1 Commission meeting, a number of teams asked the sport's governing body to reconsider the way it deals with racing incidents.

The teams argued that if the FIA no longer automatically investigates every bit of contact on track then there is a chance that drivers could take more risks - which would improve the spectacle.

Following discussions in the meeting, the FIA has agreed to a change of approach in how it deals with clashes on track from now on.

Up until now, under Article 16.1 of the Sporting Regulations, F1 race director Charlie Whiting has had to report to the race stewards any incident between two drivers that has resulted in a collision.

From this weekend's race - providing there is no formal complaint from a team about the actions of another driver - Whiting will leave it entirely up to the stewards to decide whether an incident is serious enough to warrant a punishment.

The stewards will only get involved, though, if there is a situation when one driver is clearly at fault for a crash that could easily have been avoided.

It means that Romain Grosjean would still have been punished for his 2012 Belgian Grand Prix crash, but Max Chilton may have escaped without a reprimand for his clash with Kimi Raikkonen at this year's Monaco Grand Prix.

Whiting informed team managers about the new approach during the pre-Austrian Grand Prix meeting on Thursday afternoon - and made it clear that if the new system was going to work it would require teams not to keep pushing for rivals to be punished in incidents.

Earlier this year, Pastor Maldonado expressed his own fears of drivers not pushing as much as they wanted because of the penalty situation.

"[The threat of penalties means] you cannot race, you need to only stay on track and wait for problems," he said.

"If you attack and your manoeuvre is not that clear, or the guy is defending the place and you have a gamble, and you are fighting, you can be penalised.

"So they [the FIA] need to be slightly more flexible."

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