Australian Grand Prix: 'Verstappen rule' replaced for new season

Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen during the Belgian F1 Grand Prix
Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen during last season's Belgian F1 Grand Prix

Formula 1 has dropped its so-called "Verstappen rule" aimed at dangerous driving in racing situations.

A regulation banning a practice known as "moving under braking" was adopted last year after drivers complained about Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

But governing body the FIA has decided a catch-all rule covering potentially dangerous driving is a better way of policing close-racing incidents.

Each will be treated on its merits, said F1 director Charlie Whiting.

Whiting added some of the controversial incidents last year related to this issue would potentially be treated differently were similar ones to occur in 2017.

"Before we said any move under braking would be investigated," Whiting said.

"Now, we have a simple, broad rule that says effectively if a driver moves erratically or goes unnecessarily slowly or behaves in a manner that could endanger another driver then he will be investigated."

Whiting said the idea for a "more general way of approaching things" had come about as a result of a request from the teams, who are keen to have a more laissez-faire approach to policing racing incidents.

"They wanted less investigation and only cases where it was clearly dangerous would they take action," Whiting said.

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He would not be drawn on the specifics of some of the incidents last year.

But BBC Sport has learned that at a meeting of Whiting and the race stewards on Wednesday in Melbourne, before the opening race of the new season, it was agreed that Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel would probably not have been penalised for his defence against Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in Mexico last year.

Vettel was dropped from third to fifth place after being found guilty of moving across on Ricciardo in the braking zone while defending late in the race, in which he also swore over the radio when referring to the way the stewards were dealing with Verstappen's driving.

That incident happened a week after the specific "Verstappen rule" was introduced at the US Grand Prix following complaints from senior drivers - including Vettel - about the Dutchman's defensive driving tactics.

Whiting added he had not yet informed the drivers of the change but that this would likely happen at their usual briefing after Friday's two practice sessions at Albert Park.

Ricciardo said: "If they leave it up to us the positive is we can sort it out on track. I like being able to race."

Australian Grand Prix Coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Thursday, 23 MarchAustralian GP preview21:00-22:00 & podcastBBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 24 MarchFirst practice00:55-02:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 00:30
Friday, 24 MarchSecond practice04:55-06:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 04:30
Saturday, 25 MarchThird practice02:55-04:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 02:30
Saturday, 25 MarchQualifying05:55-07:05BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 05:00
Sunday, 26 MarchRace06:00 BSTBBC Radio 5 liveFrom 04:30 BST
Monday, 27 MarchAustralian GP review04:30-05:00 & podcastBBC Radio 5 live

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