F1 clarifies safety car rules after Abu Dhabi controversies

Formula 1 governing body the FIA has tweaked the series' safety car rules in regards to lapped cars following the controversies of last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

F1 clarifies safety car rules after Abu Dhabi controversies

Previously the rule read any car can be waved past the leader under safety car conditions during a race.

The original wording became a major talking point after the 2021 season finale when race director Michael Masi chose to only allow those cars between leader Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen to be waved by.

Cars behind Verstappen were told to stay put, including those that were between the Dutchman and third placed Carlos Sainz.

At the restart with one lap to go Verstappen took advantage of his new tyres to pass Hamilton and claim both the race victory and the world championship.

In the debate that followed, there was a discussion about the potentially ambiguous meaning of the word any.

In order to ensure that there won’t be a repeat, and after a discussion with the teams, the FIA has amended the relevant rule, which now specifies that all lapped cars must be waved past the leader if it is considered safe to do so.

Article 55.13 now reads: “If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message ‘LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE’ has been sent to all competitors using the official messaging system, all cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.”

The change appears in Issue 5 of the 2022 FIA F1 Sporting Regulations, which was published today after weeks of tinkering with final details.

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Among other changes published just days before the first race of the 2022 season, drivers now have to stay in their overalls for the post-race celebrations.

The rule reads: “For the duration of the podium ceremony and post-race interview procedure, the drivers finishing the race in first, second and third positions must remain attired only in their driving suits, ‘done up’ to the neck, not opened to the waist.”

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In addition “for the duration of the TV pen interviews and FIA post-race press conference, all drivers must remain attired in their respective teams’ uniform only.”

At last year’s Brazilian GP, Max Verstappen was fined for touching the rear wing of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in parc ferme.

As a result, a new rule states: “Drivers must not interfere with parc ferme protocols in any way.”

There is also a minor change to one of the new tables of points allocations for shortened races that have been introduced for this year following last season's Belgian GP, which didn’t feature a flying racing lap.

For races that are stopped at between 50% and 75% distance, the score for fourth place has changed from nine to 10 points, and the score for seventh place from five to four points. The full allocation now reads 19-14-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1.

In addition for resumptions after red flag periods, teams will now be given at least a minute’s notice about whether it will be a standing start or rolling start before the signal is given for the cars leave the pits. Previously no time was specified.

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