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FIA bans F1 pit exit overtakes after Verstappen incident in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1 drivers have been banned from overtaking in the Abu Dhabi pit exit, following the Max Verstappen incidents in Friday practice.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Verstappen raised some eyebrows in second practice when he muscled his way past other cars in the narrow tunnel pit exit that passes under the main track at the Yas Marina circuit.

While his actions were not a strict breach of the regulations, the fact that he came close to being squeezed into the wall highlighted the potential safety issue.

So, in a move to prevent any repeat problems for the remainder of the Abu Dhabi weekend, F1 race director Niels Wittich has outlawed any repeat shenanigans.

In revised event notes that were sent to teams on Saturday morning, Wittich said: “Overtaking is prohibited in the pit exit road unless a car slows with an obvious problem.”

On Friday, the most notable Verstappen moment came when he barged his way ahead of George Russell and then found his path briefly blocked by Lewis Hamilton as he came close to brushing the wall.

Then, having accelerated past the lead Mercedes car, he got briefly held up by Alpine’s Pierre Gasly before surging past the Alpine on the way out of the pits.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

While Verstappen appeared to be impatient to get rolling out of the pitlane during the interrupted second practice, he blamed rivals for triggering the drama.

"I mean, they have to move," said Verstappen. "They are all driving slow, and I want to go out because we are limited on time, and they just keep on driving in the middle.

"Then, when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall. So yeah...a bit silly."

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Overtaking in the pitlane has become a talking point recently as the FIA has moved to try to reduce traffic problems in qualifying.

With drivers now forced to stick within a maximum lap time for out-laps in qualifying, they have taken to trying to build up gaps in the pitlane exit – which has triggered further problems.

In Brazil this year, the FIA allowed overtaking in the pit exit to prevent cars blocking each other, but that again caused trouble as drivers felt it was not the safest solution.

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