What Is the Max Verstappen Rule?
Max Verstappen has made quite the mark in Formula One since his debut in 2015. From a bright young prospect, the Dutchman is now a frontrunner in the championship battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
While the 23-year-old produced excellent performances on track, he also forced the FIA to introduce new rules for the sport. Although the FIA modified one of those rules quickly, the other one remains intact.
FIA introduced penalties for ‘moving under braking’ after drivers took issue with Max Verstappen
The Dutchman is one of the most feared drivers on the grid today. Although his title challenge in previous seasons faltered due to Red Bull’s reliability issues, he leads the 2021 F1 season by 12 points. However, his current driving style results from years of experience and a development in his maturity.
In his early days with Red Bull, Verstappen often defended his track position aggressively, which other drivers viewed as ‘dangerous.’ While the Dutchman won his debut race with Red Bull at Barcelona in 2016, he caused problems for various drivers on the grid with his aggressive defending.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who raced for Ferrari at the time, were most affected by Verstappen’s tactics in 2016. With other drivers complaining about the Dutchman’s antics, the FIA issued a rule where any instance of unusual movement during braking would be reported to the stewards, and appropriate action would be taken.
However, the FIA broadened the rule in 2017 after realising drivers needed more freedom while racing on track. Charlie Whiting, who was the race director at the time, clarified the rule further. He said, “Before, we said any move under braking will be investigated.
“Now we have a simple rule which says effectively that if a driver moves erratically or goes unnecessarily slowly or behaves in a manner that could endanger another driver, then he will be investigated. So there’s a very broad rule now.”
Although Verstappen’s antics forced the FIA to introduce this rule, it wasn’t the first one.
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What was the first ‘Verstappen Rule’?
At just 17 years of age, the young Dutchman signed for Toro Rosso for the 2015 season alongside Carlos Sainz. This made Verstappen the youngest ever F1 driver to make his debut in the sport.
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After Verstappen’s debut, the FIA enforced a new rule which raised the age limit to 18 years old for a driver making his debut. This rule came into effect in 2015, which ensured Verstappen will remain the youngest driver to debut in F1.
The Dutchman’s win in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix also made him the youngest race winner in F1, a record which stands to this day. Although there are several drivers making their debuts towards the end of their teenage years, no one has made an impact quite like Verstappen so far.
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