Can I push him wide ?

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    In view of the repeating Hamilton v Rosberg incidents and of the constant complaints about inconsistent stewarding in F1, I would say that a clear rule about cornering priority is long overdue. I am amazed that there is nothing of the sort in the F1 rules, although such a rule would not be that difficult to phrase.

    Case 1) Corner entry

    Although there is no written rule that I am aware of, that one is relatively less controversial. Most people would agree that when you are on the outside line, you can claim the corner and shut the door when you are more or less half a car length in front. That proportion may vary following personal tastes, but I found that half a car length is a reasonable average between people’s opinions. When open-wheelers are racing, a more visual and even better tipping point would be when the inside car’s front wheel is exactly between the outside car’s rear and front wheels.

    As a limit case example, I like the Alboreto-Mansell incident at Monaco 1988, because it is right at the tipping point, and in a slow enough place that one can see it very clearly. Also because I felt at the time that the reactions were a bit biased towards Mansell, as in “he couldn’t see him” or “it is not a place to overtake”. But if there is a clear rule about priority, then the front driver must look in his mirrors, and must leave enough room the corner if the car behind is sufficiently alongside, or even concede the corner if it is a one-car corner. In that case, as I said I think it was borderline and a racing incident.

    Case 2) Corner exit

    As one can see with Hamilton and Rosberg, opinions differ largely about whether the inside car can claim the line and push the outside car off the track. Hamilton stated clearly that he was entitled to push the other car wide whenever he felt like it, while Rosberg is of a very different opinion.

    My point is that I see no reason to handle that case differently from case 1. In both cases, the racing line goes from one side of the track to the other, the car ahead would like to claim that racing line but the car behind is partly in the way. If we apply the same rule as in case 1, it would mean that the inside car can push the outside car wide when the outside car’s front wheel has not reached the middle of the outside car’s rear and front wheels.

    The proportion of car length required is of course very much subject to discussion, but whatever the proportion retained, I think that it is absolutely necessary to have clear rules in cases 1 and 2, and preferably one same and only rule. It would put an end to all the bitching, and the driver that has the priority would be entitled to stand his ground, with the insurance that in the case of a crash, the blame would lie on the other driver. That means for example that Rosberg would not have had to lift in the Suzuka 2015 and Hungaroring 2014 incidents. Or see Montoya v Schumacher at Imola 2004 for an even bigger controversy (Montoya calling Schumacher “blind or stupid” while Schumacher thought he was just doing his usual chop).


    I agree with both case 1 and case 2. But although even when the rules are clear, it’s always difficult to take them into practice. Because when the attacker takes more speed into the corner than the defender, ‘being alongside’ does not always comply. You must at least slow down fast enough to take the inside line properly. And that causes much debate. Take Verstappen on Ericsson in China for example. Was that a great ballsy overtake or a dive bomb?


    I can see where you’re coming from, but my understanding in this regard is very simple, shall I say ideal(istic) and thus very rare to see.

    It’s basically live and let live – you respect another driver’s intention to put his car alongside you, be it on corner entry or exit, and leave him at least a car’s width on either side, if any part of his car is next to yours. ‘Defensive’ driving is exhausted by taking up either the inside or the outside line before a deceleration zone (“one move” rule).

    Contrary to popular belief, if both parties play by the rules, neither line is guaranteed to be better – the outside has the advantage of being a wider radius and no risk of taking out the other car if you get tight/loose, while the inside only has the advantage of being the shorter way around – and it’s a real danger that you lose control there and take the other one out.

    Laying blame in incidents is also very simple. He who forces the other out is the ‘bad guy’ simply for using force and/or he who loses control during a move – God forbid, crashes on purpose – causes the accident. Cornering or straight, it makes no difference, the ruleset is applicable all the same.

    It’s a tried and tested philosophy in online racing communities, but of course I can understand people rarely play gentleman when the reality of the high-stakes world of F1, NASCAR and other top series kick in.


    My thought towards this matter has always been “if your front wing is in danger, you’re not far enough alongside and the other driver is entitled to take the line”. For me, this applies to turn-in and exit.

    For example, if you go steaming up the inside and only end up halfway alongside the car in front, the likelihood is that you will lose your front wing if contact occurred and you’d likely come off worse if the driver in front closed the door. In the case of Max Verstappen at China, he ensured he was ahead in the split second before turn-in. Personally I thought it was a divebomb, but when applied to this theory, it works – his front wing was ahead and out of the way of potential danger when they turned in, hence he was able to take the line.

    If you’re trying to effect a pass on the outside, you have to engineer a situation where the car on the inside has a greater chance of coming off worse if contact occurred, ie. you have to be alongside, if not ahead in order to hold the high ground and take the line. Rosberg at COTA for example, wasn’t fully alongside Hamilton enough to put his front wing out of danger (had rosberg kept turning in, he’d have most likely damaged his front wing)

    So for me, the critical distance (which OP highlighted as being the front wheel halfway alongside the car in front) is more to do with the position of your front wing relative to the car in front. In simple terms, I guess I’ve just made a long explanation of saying “If you’re ahead, you’re entitled to take the line”.


    You are absolutely correct. The rule I proposed doesn’t cover every situation, but I wanted to keep it simple at first (and avoid writing a wall of text).

    Probably one should ask that the divebombing driver is able to stop the car not only while staying in the track limits, but also while leaving one car width so as not to push the defender wide. This is hard to tell on TV, even more so when there is a crash. The telemetry is probably needed here. And even that way, the divebombing driver might still claim that he would have had a special trick to stop the car faster than usual with a small controlled slide.

    Your example is good. The fact that Ericsson soon backed off made it look like a great ballsy overtake, but the fact that Verstappen seemed forced to use all the track suggest that he would have pushed Ericsson wide if the Sauber was there. So I don’t know what to make of it…


    The above was a reply to Matthijs. I have absolutely no idea why it took more than 2 days to be published.


    Well the rule as I always understood it was “all the time you have to leave a space”…


    I don’t think a general rule can be made for this, I think a case-by-case analysis is what works best.

    I agree the stewards are inconsistent, but they could begin by enforcing rules who already exist. Verstappen’s overtake on Nasr at Spa was fantastic … but also illegal. I don’t understand why the stewards didn’t ask him to return the place.

    And holy macaroni that 2004 video of Montoya and Schumacher is awesome! On most circuits nowadays Montoya would have just kept on on some tarmac run off and pulled off the overtake.

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