FIA tweaks F1 pitlane exit rules following Verstappen controversy

The FIA has moved to clear up the rules regarding Formula 1 drivers crossing pitlane exit lines, in response to the controversy that surrounded Max Verstappen in Monaco last year. 

FIA tweaks F1 pitlane exit rules following Verstappen controversy

In the wake of Verstappen’s third-place finish in Monte Carlo, as Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez triumphed, both drivers found themselves subject to a Ferrari protest about crossing the pitlane exit line. 

During an early change of tyres on the damp but drying track, both were observed from on-board footage to have swerved towards the yellow pitlane exit line that drivers are not allowed to cross. 

Following Ferrari’s complaints, the FIA stewards investigated the matter after the race and eventually decided that neither driver had committed an offence. 

While it was quickly established that Perez had not touched the line, Verstappen was given the all-clear despite having not stayed to one side of it – a breach which previously had earned drivers penalties. 

The decision to clear Verstappen was because of a change of wording in the FIA’s International Sporting Code for 2022 that stipulated at pit exit a driver ‘must not cross’ the line. 

The stewards said at the time: “In this case, the car did not "cross" the line – to do so it would have needed to have a full wheel to the left of the yellow line.” 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The FIA’s interpretation of what 'crossing' the line meant triggered some unease among drivers, as it effectively gave them a green light to now drift one wheel wide quite far across the lines if needed to defend positions. This had potential serious safety implications.

In a bid to improve the situation, the FIA duly held discussions over the winter and it has now tidied up the wording of its International Sporting Code relating to the matter. 

These revisions were approved by the World Motor Sport Council this week and have been communicated to teams and drivers ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

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New wording has been added to the relevant appendix of the ISC to make it clear that the limit for crossing the line is now judged based on the outer edge of the tyre. 

The FIA states: “For the avoidance of doubt, crossing means that the outside of any tyre should not go beyond the outside, with respect to the pitlane, of the relevant line painted on the track.” 

The words have also been added to the relevant section regarding pitlane entry lines, which drivers are also not allowed to cross. 

To further emphasise what is deemed acceptable, F1 race director Niels Wittich submitted a drawing in his pre-race Event Notes in Bahrain to illustrate where the new limits are. This can be seen below. 

Wheel pitlane exit lines limit

Wheel pitlane exit lines limit

Photo by: FIA

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