FIA issues new guidelines on practice starts


Following Lewis Hamilton's penalties at Sochi, the FIA has issued new guidelines to drivers regarding practice starts.

The world champion was handed two 5s penalties during last month's Russian Grand Prix after he performed practice starts outside the designated area ahead of the race.

While the penalties effectively ended his hopes of winning the race, in the aftermath the Briton suggested that the sport's powers that be were deliberately targeting him, a claim the FIA has resolutely denied.

Nonetheless, ahead of this weekend's Eifel Grand Prix, race director, Michael Masi has clarified the rules.

"During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side prior to the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking," he advises. "Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

"During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out after the end of the pit wall and adjacent to the orange band on the right-hand side barrier," he adds. "Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

"During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start may cross the white line that is referred to in 19.1 below. Any driver crossing this line must move back to the right of it as quickly as possible.

"For reasons of safety and sporting equity, cars may not stop in the fast lane at any time the pit exit is open without a justifiable reason (a practice start is not considered a justifiable reason)."

"The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific, and detailed in the event notes," said Masi following the race in Sochi. "So at every other event Lewis has, along with all the other drivers, complied with the requirements of where they perform a practice start in accordance with the race director instructions.

"I would say that the reason why we determine where the practice start location is is for the safety of all drivers, and also so everybody is aware of what is actually happening. We determine its location for a deliberate reason.

"In the stewards view, performing that practice start in that area, in their view was a sporting advantage," said the Australian, referring directly to Hamilton's penalties. "Having spoken to them quickly, and therefore they thought an appropriate penalty was a sporting penalty."

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Published: 08/10/2020
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