In an update to the pre-event notes issued on Saturday ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, new race director Niels Wittich clarified that certain manoeuvres ahead of a restart will be forbidden. 

The notes included a reminder of Article 55.14 of the sporting regulations that states: “In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”

Wittich also provided a diagram demonstrating examples of what type of moves will not be permitted and what is considered acceptable. While drivers will not be forced to follow the same line as the car in front, they will no longer be allowed to move level. 

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has deployed the tactic of drawing alongside a rival car ahead of a Safety Car restart at three consecutive races. 

He did so in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale in a bid to hustle race-leader Lewis Hamilton just before the controversial final lap restart that was incorrectly forced by former race director Michael Masi. 

Images showed that Verstappen had even briefly overtook Hamilton at one stage, which led to a post-race protest from Mercedes that was ultimately thrown out by the stewards. 

Verstappen also drew his Red Bull alongside race leader Charles Leclerc as they prepared for the restart at both races this season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. 

FIA removes one DRS zone at Albert Park 

The FIA has also confirmed it has removed one of the four DRS zones from the modified Albert Park track on safety grounds. 

Drivers had been using an unprecedented four DRS zones throughout Friday practice but for the rest of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, the circuit will revert to the previous three zones it had the last time F1 raced in Melbourne in 2019.

It had been hoped the addition of an extra DRS zone, along with changes to the circuit including the removal of the Turn 9-10 chicane, would help increase overtaking opportunities and improve racing around the venue. 

But in a notice sent to all teams on Saturday, Wittich announced that the extra zone along the newly-formed back straight would be removed “for safety reasons”. 

The DRS zone that follows Turns 9 and 10 remains unchanged and the activation point has been moved to just before Turn 9.