FIA makes another change to rules on overtaking

2014 F1 season

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The FIA has made another change to the rules on overtaking, an area of the regulations which has received considerable attention in recent years.

The clarification centres on how much of an advantage a driver may gain by going off the track.

Attention has been focused on the rules due to a number of incidents this year including Romain Grosjean’s pass on Felipe Massa during the Hungarian Grand Prix, which was penalised, and Fernando Alonso’s move on Jean-Eric Vergne during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which wasn’t.

Article 20.2 of the 2014 Sporting Regulations now states drivers may not gain a “lasting” advantage by leaving the track entirely. It also grants the race director the power to instruct drivers to yield a position, something which has become common practice in recent years.

Here’s how the old and new rules compare, with the relevant sections highlighted:

2013 Sporting Regulations

Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of doubt the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.

A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.

Should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any advantage.

A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.

2014 Sporting Regulations

Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of doubt the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.

A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.

Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage. At the absolute discretion of the race director a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he gained by leaving the track.

A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “FIA makes another change to rules on overtaking”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    12th December 2013, 15:06

    Well that’s cleared that one up then….. What differenciates an “advantage” from a “lasting advantage?”

    1. A lasting advantage is an advantage that you do not reverse.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        12th December 2013, 15:54

        An advantage is only an advantage if it’s lasting though surely? If you overtake someone whilst off the track and give the position back up, you haven’t gained an advantage. I can’t see any situation that may now be viewed differently with this addition but surely for them to add it, they must be trying to clarify something?

        1. The difference is that the FIA were incompetent before, and are now incompetent instead.

          Oh it’s the same!

          1. Or is it lasting incompetence?

        2. But when driver is in front of other and he goes off the track just to keep the speed (some tarmac ‘out of bounds’) will cause in ‘lasting advantage’ – he will not be passed. So in my opinion going off track should be always punished if it does not affect your lap time or just drop the case of going off the track completely. If out of the track is quicker way, track management should do something that it is not.

    2. A lasting advantage is a multi-year advantage.

      1. So you only get a penalty if the extra points due to the overtake are the points you need to become champion 4 months later.

      2. A lasting advantage is just that. An advantage that does not get reversed by virtue of either yielding the place back or simply being overtaken back.

        1. I assume in the situation you overtake someone off track and they immediately pit, you wouldn’t be penalised.

          1. I don´t agree.
            If overtaking someone off track gives him a 0.2s advantage, it will still be an advantage, because he will rejoin 0.2s earlier and maybe ahead instead of behind other contender, ergo, will be a lasting advantage…

    3. +1, that’s the same for me …

    4. Lasting Advantage u get if you are Alonso driving a Ferrari. U dont get penalyzed for anything.

      1. Why Alonso @prelvu ?
        He did get some harsh penalties in 2010.
        He has not gotten any, yes, but it isn’t like he goes around jumping corners. a few other drivers qualify for the same.

      2. Like Alonso being ordered to give back the place to Perez in Monaco 2013?

  2. Ooh goody, another nebulous term added to the regulations to be interpreted as best suits the stewards’ mood at the time…

    1. haha @jamesremuscat yeah. “Let’s make it complicated so no one understands and we leave it up to Charlie”.

      1. What about “Let’s make it complicated so we can keep penalizing everyone except Alonso and get away with that”.

        1. Like Alonso being ordered to give back the place to Perez in Monaco 2013?

  3. Just go back to having a 45 degree angle on the curbs and real grass beyond that. You can have your tarmac run off area just over a cars width beyond that.

  4. “A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.”

    Like a driver could take a stick on board and touch the track while going off-track….

    1. Radio: I’m off track, I couldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

    2. I’m sure they’d classify that as moving aerodynamic bodywork :P

  5. Is there a clarification into what qualifies as “track”? I think it should be used everywhere, and not be considered at each track.

    I mean, at India track limits were not followed. How do you take actions then?

    They showed in Brazil that hey can force drivers not to use certain parts of the track. They should either come up with a solution of tarmac run offs or do what they did in Interlagos.

    1. They should definitely not do what they did in Abu Dhabi.

      Turn 1, 2, and 3, by all means gain two seconds, turn 4 and 6, disqualification for gaining a hundredth

      1. Only this year at Abu Dhabi, those two seconds will count as 4!… or something like that ;)

  6. I wonder how long before a lawyer sits with each team, giving clarifications to rules.

    1. I think that’S been happening for at least 5 years now, maybe a decade already @hatebreeder :-P

    2. David not Coulthard (@)
      12th December 2013, 15:58

      @hatebreeder And they’re called aerodynamic designers?

      in that case, there’s still around -5 decades to go.

  7. I wonder how long it will take before we see messages like this scrolling along the bottom of the tv screen “The incident involving car no4 ( leaving he track ) will be investigated after the race”

    They can tweek the rules as much as they like but some things will never change.

  8. David not Coulthard (@)
    12th December 2013, 15:55

    so, on the last lap of a championship showdown between Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, and perhaps Magnussen, at Yas Marina at which the runoff is tarmac….


    Seb, they said that the overtake you’ve just made on Fernando was illegal, give the place back!


    But everybody goes off the track there!

  9. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    12th December 2013, 16:18

    I didn’t think the rule needed clarifying – if you go off the track it isn’t an overtake which is pretty clear. What is really needed is a consistent application of the rules.

  10. Aha Glad to see that the turd has been polished and painted !!

  11. Surely we could just say:

    “If a driver completes an overtake by leaving the track, he must immediately relinquish the gained position. Failure to do so immediately will result in a drive-through penalty.”

    ,and all this confusion could be cleared up.

    1. I think the rule is deliberately phrased to cover many scenarios.

      I suspect the point of “lasting” is to differentiate between a consequence that affects race position, from gaining a small amount of time while remaining in position.

      Note that affecting race position includes illegally retaining your position.
      If a driver remains in front by leaving the track he must also relinquish the advantage.
      This is in addition to the obvious case of passing by leaving the track.

  12. Sense and Simplicity

    1. Hahahaha!!

  13. Maybe the word “lasting” has been added so that they can (continue to) ignore drivers going wide at particular corners. I still think that they should stay between the white lines at all times. And also: bah! Humbug! ;-)

  14. I like that this has been clarified, however you could argue the clarification has just added complication!

    Simple solution: a line of slippery astro turf bordering the track, so you can’t run wide (you would just spin or have to bale out completely).

    1. Yeah that’s what i keep expecting them to do, or something similar. Astro turf might be a bit unstable but surely they can make some type of asphalt (or other hard substance) with a slippery surface to avoid most of these incidents. They could still leave the rules as they are.

      Or, maybe they should use Bernie’s sprinkler system to soak outside the track boundaries!

  15. This leads me to believe that the race director will now be calling the shots on who should give a place instead of the teams on the pitwall. In the past we have seen someone keep the advantage and get a drive through penalty, and for the FIA to get a lot of hassle from the fans about it (i.e. Grosjean in Hungary). Instead, I think this new rule allows the stewards to become responsible for telling the teams when to hand places back and would avoid handing out overly harsh penalties for the sake of a driver going a few centimetres over the white lines.

  16. If this means more sensible penalties rather than straight drive-through then I’m all for it.

  17. Can anybody clarify what happens if an illegal overtake happens (such as Grojean vs. Massa) and then the ‘victim’ car pits? It becomes impossible for the offender to give the place back without pitting, coming out in front and then handing the position back, doesn’t it?

  18. Oh come on! This just makes the rules even MORE nebulous. Are they just trying to make it easier for the stewards to pick their favorite driver?
    Seriously, intelligent/grown men sat around and said: “yeah, that clears everything up”??? I love F1 but sometimes the guys who run it really worry me.

  19. The big problem with this rule is deciding why the driver left the track, was it because (a) his overtaking move was too ambitious and despite having track room could not stay on track, or was it (b) the defending drivers defence was over ambitious and he could not leave enough room or (c) both, I can only think that the word lasting has been added in order for the team and stewards to allow some form of correction less onerous than a drive through penalty. Dont expect everyone to be in agreement though.

    1. I agree. My interpretation is that regardless of the circumstances, leaving track is leaving the track, and this is deemed illegal if lasting advantage has been gained. If the defending drivers defence was over ambitious, then that would the fall under a different rule being that the defending driver made more than one change of direction.

      What is not clear with this new “lasting” phrase, is how much time is allowed for this effect to be corrected. What if suddenly (following the illegal maneuver) there is a safety car, or the defender must make a scheduled pit entrance, under these circumstances I believe its no longer considered “lasting” advantage as the defending driver would have had to enter the pit anyway.

  20. Just put a car and a half width of grass at the edge of the track/kerb,then the tarmac run off. Then if the driver overtaking makes the pass without going onto the tarmac run off,let him keep the position.simples.

  21. Lasting advantage?!?! What the hell does that supposed to mean? A lasting advantage as in one that leads to an overtake? One that helps set up for an overtake? Good Lord this is vague.

  22. What if you are off track but on your own, eg leading by 5 secs and running wide on a corner exit to carry more speed repeatedly. How can that be given back?

    1. I think the driver leading would lose some of the 5 sec advantage everytime he went over the car n half width of grass anyway,if not i`m sure the other teams would be on the telephone to charlie, if that wasnt the case. And then im sure a radio message to the driver, of an impending penalty would do the trick. The grass would cause the driver to at least lift off the throttle….

  23. ***! IMHO this does not clarify the rules. In fact, it makes them less clear and more open to interpretation.

    As I have said many times, a driver needs to be penalised any time he goes off track. This could be a “natural” penalty (e.g. he spun off), or one set by the stewards, but it needs to be strictly enforced.

    We have seen races this year where drivers left the track on almost every lap. They are skilled drivers, so must be doing so on purpose. They will continue to do so unless they are stopped.

    1. Well good luck in your bid for absolute clarity,hope u can come up with a solution on the matter. Maybe build a concrete wall around the track edges ! ;)

  24. I think the most priceless addition is actually:

    A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason

    When the Stewards ask Massa why he keeps ‘leaving the track’ by cutting into the pit lane in Brazil all he needs to do is to say “it’s much quicker that way”. It’s hard to argue with that reason.

  25. Why can’t they just make it simple and say, “You cannot put any part of the race car over the white lines.” The white lines define the track, so as far as I am concerned, they shouldn’t be allowed to touch the curbs at all.
    That is where the FIA would state that white lines are really just a light shade of grey….

  26. More stupid rules. F1 is the height of ridiculous. With Red Bull air racing back in 2014 and the WEC looking stronger I’ll be devoting my time to those. Get a grip F1

  27. For me, one of the lasting advantage is when leaving the track ultimately gain lap time. Some (a lot) of times driver leave the track and they said it didn’t gave them any advantage, and that is flat out lying. That’s probably gave them a few tenth every lap, which in F1 every tenth counts. FIA really needs to put the hammer on this instead of focusing on giving the penalties about leaving the track when there’s a close battle.

  28. I think a “lasting advantage” is:
    a) improving lap times
    b) gaining a place on track (not only a possition) and not giving it back INMEDIATELY. More so, if you go off track, you should abort that overtaking manoeuvre…
    c) impeding another driver when returning to track

  29. Im not f1 any more, the cars are ugly, the sound of the engines are bad, the engine of my bug sound better,i have around 150 f1 tapes and i compare the soud of the engines like the monza race 1990, the sound are beautiful.

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