Formula 1’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has tweaked the series’ safety car rules in regards to lapped cars following the controversy during last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Formula 1: New rules released to prevent repeat of 2021 Abu Dhabi
The changes come only days to the start of the new season
Previously, the regulations stated that ‘any’ lapped cars needed to be waved by the leader. However, following the drama which surrounded the way lapped traffic was allowed by the safety car last year, that has now been changed to ‘all’ cars.
Article 55.13 of the Sporting Regulations now reads;
"If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE has been sent to all competitors using the official messaging system, all cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car."
The original wording became a major talking point after the 2021 season finale when race director Michael Masi chose to only allow those cars between leader Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen to be waved by.
Lapped cars behind Verstappen were told to stay put, including those that were between the Dutchman and third placed Carlos Sainz.
At the restart with one lap to go Verstappen took advantage of his new tyres to pass Hamilton and claim both the race victory and the world championship.
While Masi's actions were justified by the FIA stewards following a Mercedes team appeal, F1's governing body lodged a full review into the process and admitted F1's image was being tarnished.
Following the review, it was announced Masi would be replaced as race director for the 2022 season among a number of structural changes ahead of the season.
Niels Wittich, former DTM race director, and Eduardo Freitas, WEC race director, will now act alternatively as F1's race director.
The changes come ahead of the start of the new season, which begins with the Bahrain GP this weekend.