What Formula 1's safety car restart rules say

Formula 1's world championship showdown in Abu Dhabi ended in controversial circumstances, with Mercedes protesting the way a safety car restart was handled by the FIA.

With Lewis Hamilton having looked on course to grab his eighth world crown, the race was turned in its head when Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed at the exit of the hotel complex on lap 53 of the 58 laps race, triggering a safety car.

The safety car situation resulted in Max Verstappen pitting for soft tyres, while Hamilton stayed out on his well-worn hards.

With a winner-takes-all championship battle underway, it was in Red Bull's interest to get a restart going, and it without the intervention of lapped cars that were on track between Verstappen and Hamilton.

So when Masi issued a notice saying 'Lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake', it appeared that Red Bull's hopes would not be realised as he would be unlikely to clear the lapped cars in time.

However, the situation changed dramatically on the penultimate lap when Masi felt the track was safe enough to let a few backmarkers overtake.

But it was the way this was handled, and the immediate restart, that has upset Mercedes.

Safety Car rules

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Mercedes' protest is based on two regulations: Article 48.12 and Article 48.8 of the F1 Sporting Regulations.

Article 48.12 deals with the situation of having backmarkers unlap themselves.

Initially, Masi had been within his rights to state that 'Lapped Cars will not be allowed to overtake' - which meant Verstappen would be trapped behind five backmarkers before he could get a run on Hamilton.

However, on the penultimate lap, on the run down to Turn 9, Masi sent a message saying that five cars – Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel could unlap themselves.

The decision to only allow some lapped cars to unlap themselves is unusual as Article 48.12 suggests that the message 'LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE' should be sent to all competitors.

The regulation is then explicit about when the race can be restarted.

It states: "Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.

"If the clerk of the course considers track conditions are unsuitable for overtaking the message "OVERTAKING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED" will be sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system "

This clause suggests that with the lapped car message having come out on lap 57, then the restart could only come at the end of the 'following lap'- so lap 58, which was the end of the race.

Article 48.8 relates to there being no overtaking behind the safety car.

During the restart phase, as Hamilton and Verstappen prepared to begin racing again, it appeared from the onboard that the Red Bull had briefly nudged ahead of the Mercedes.

The rule states that "no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3 – which is the safety car line) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits."

Both matters will now be dealt with in the FIA stewards' room on Sunday night, meaning the championship fight ends under a cloud.

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

Verstappen: Mercedes F1 protest in Abu Dhabi "sums up this season"
Previous article

Verstappen: Mercedes F1 protest in Abu Dhabi "sums up this season"

Next article

Perez in two minds about "crucial" Hamilton defence

Perez in two minds about "crucial" Hamilton defence
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Prime

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Motorsport.com heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Prime

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Prime

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. Mark Gallagher ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022