F1 announces ban in the wake of Max Verstappen’s actions

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen puffs out his cheeks at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen puffs out his cheeks.

Formula 1 race director Niels Wittich has prohibited the drivers from overtaking in the Abu Dhabi pit lane following Max Verstappen’s near-miss in FP2.

After two red flag stoppages, Friday’s second practice got underway with just 16 minutes remaining and the drivers, many still on single digits for their lap count, desperate to get in some running.

The queue out of the pits meant many of the drivers were touring the pit exit slowly in order to build up a gap to the car ahead, and Verstappen wasn’t happy about that.

‘Overtaking is prohibited in the pit exit road’

The Dutchman squeezed his way past George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, coming very close to clipping the wall, before all overtaking Pierre Gasly.

Russell told Mercedes that Verstappen was “just crossing all the lines to pass”, however, the reigning World Champion believed he was within his right to overtake them.

“They have to move,” he insisted. “They’re all driving slow and I want to go out because we’re all limited on time and they just keep driving in the middle.

“And when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall, so a bit silly.”

But given the tight pit exit at the Yas Marina Circuit, one that is surrounded by walls, Wittich made the call ahead of third practice to ban overtaking in the pit lane.

“Overtaking is prohibited in the pit exit road unless a car slows with an obvious problem,” read his updated notes.

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The ban flies in the face of his Brazilian Grand Prix ruling when he said the drivers could overtake in the pit exit in a bid to stop them blocking one another by stopping in the pit lane.

His notes read: “During Shootout and Qualifying, drivers may create a gap between the pit exit lights and the SC2 line. Any driver who wishes to do so must drive as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass them on the right side of the pit exit road.”

Ironically that weekend Verstappen joined a host of drivers calling that “extremely dangerous”.

“Absolutely terrible, I think, because on this track you have quite a long pit exit and there are some walls,” Verstappen said.

“But on some other tracks, if we implement this, you’re driving very slowly onto a straight where people are passing with 300-plus, and you are maybe driving 15/20 to make a gap, which is I think extremely dangerous.

“So for me, this doesn’t work at all, it just creates even more trouble.

“Look at what was happening [in qualifying], people going on the grass, including myself, to try and pass cars. It’s just a mess.

“Every single qualifying you have six to eight cars getting noted for driving too slow with the minimum time. I don’t know what we’re trying to achieve.”

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