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Verstappen Safety Car tactic now banned

Drivers must not move ahead of the rear of the car in front during an F1 Safety Car

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New Formula 1 race director Niels Wittich has issued new advice regarding Safety Car restarts and how F1 drivers should conduct themselves during this period, outlawing cars from drawing alongside each other, a move used regularly by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen

In a diagram available via the Race Director’s event notes, various scenarios depicting what is permissible and what is not were shown. 

The following car can move directly behind the leading car, but must do so if they keep to the side. However, should cars be in single file, then a gap should be left between cars for safety. 

New Safety Car rules

In the opening two races of the 2022 F1 season, Verstappen moved his Red Bull alongside the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc during a Safety Car restart, as he tried to gain an advantage and put pressure on the race leader. 

The Dutchman also pulled the same move on race leader Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, and at one point moved ahead of the Mercedes.  

Race Director’s notes

In Article 55.14 of the Race Director’s event notes, Niels Wittich advised drivers: “In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”

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