Who Owns The Corner In F1? (Overtaking Rules Explained)

Formula 1 is a fast-paced sport. If a driver is too slow out on track, they’re going to be overtaken by their rivals. One thing we love in Formula 1 is great wheel to wheel battles, but there are some rules that drivers need to follow when fighting for position, such as who owns the corner.

In F1, driver that is clearly ahead going into the corner owns it. This means that they have the right to the racing line, which is the fastest line around the corner. Two cars can’t be on the same piece of tarmac, so it’s important for this rule to be adhered to or they may crash.

There are several rules in place when it comes to overtaking in Formula 1 and for good reason. Ultimately, fairness and safety are more important than overtaking. Let’s take a closer look at what some of these rules are and how they affect F1 races.

The Rules Of Overtaking In F1

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and as such, nothing comes easy. With 20 of the best drivers on one grid, there have to be regulations in place to ensure that the sport remains fair and safe. This applies to overtaking, too, and drivers must follow these rules.

In some other forms of motorsport, it’s easier to overtake because you can take more risks. There are fewer rules involved with overtaking, and oftentimes you can pass the car in front of you as long as you do so without cutting a corner to get ahead of them.

In Formula 1 though, it’s not so straightforward. Overtaking is an art that has to be perfected by the driver. It’s not as simple as just driving past the car ahead of you by any means possible. The Formula 1 grid is made up of the best drivers in the world, so overtaking must be done properly.

If a driver breaches any of these rules, they will be investigated by the stewards. The stewards can decide whether or not the driver should be penalized for the incident, or whether the incident will be investigated after the race. Penalties can be given out to any driver that has breached overtaking rules.

Causing A Collision

If there’s one term that’s been made famous from other branches of motorsport it’s “rubbing is racing.” This is not the case in Formula 1, however. Formula 1 is a non-contact sport, which is something that NASCAR drivers don’t have. There’s a very good reason Formula 1 drivers don’t use their vehicles as bumper cars.

Formula 1 cars are extremely sensitive and fragile, which means that they often have parts that can break off with the slightest bit of contact. Even a slight tap against another car’s rear tire can break off a front wing endplate, costing the driver up to 0.3 seconds per lap and having to replace the front wing with a spare that costs $150,000.

If any contact is made while overtaking or defending, the stewards will investigate the incident thoroughly to determine who is at fault for the collision. The driver who caused the collision will be penalized with a drive-through penalty, or they will have time added on to their final result.

In some cases, the stewards may determine that the collision was a “racing incident,” which we’ll explore further later on. Any form of contact between two cars will be investigated by the stewards though, which makes overtaking in Formula 1 much more challenging.

Forcing Another Driver Off Track

On top of overtaking cleanly without making contact with the other car, drivers need to ensure that they leave enough room for the other car when overtaking. A driver is not allowed to position their car in a way that forces another driver off the track in any way.

This often happens on circuits where there is some runoff space or grass on the outside of the corners. It’s easy to run along a racing line and start squeezing the other driver onto the grass to get them to back out and tuck in behind your car.

However, this would be considered forcing another driver off the track to gain a position. If a driver is on the inside of the corner overtaking another, they will need to leave enough space for the other car to defend. The other driver should have the choice in whether they want to back out and catch a slipstream or stay alongside the other car.

Forcing another driver off track does not necessarily mean that there has to be contact between the two cars. Edging closer to another car and forcing them to move off the track to avoid a collision is still considered forcing another driver off the track in order to gain an advantage. Such an incident would be investigated by the stewards.

Weaving On A Straight

Drivers are not allowed to weave their cars (or zigzag) when going down a straight. Drivers sometimes do this to break a tow (also known as a slipstream) when going down a long straight, and this tactic works, as the driver behind is often unable to close the gap to the car ahead.

However, doing this is illegal, and it’s not because of the fact that it breaks the tow for the car behind. Instead, it’s more of a safety issue. If a driver is weaving on the straight, it causes a scenario where they could easily collide with another car.

Weaving on the straight becomes dangerous when two cars are trying to overtake one another, especially when one is alongside the other and is unable to avoid a collision with the weaving car. This is a strict rule, and if a driver is seen weaving on the straights, they will often immediately be given the black and white flag or a time penalty.

Cutting A Corner

It might sound obvious, but overtaking another car by cutting the corner is not allowed in Formula 1. However, it does still happen frequently, even if it’s not usually done on purpose.

Formula 1 drivers are constantly on the limit, and one small mistake can cause a driver to overshoot the corner. When they cut the corner, they usually gain an advantage and overtake the car ahead of them. However, they usually have the opportunity to give the place back to the other driver and escape a penalty.

We’ve also seen many instances of defending drivers cutting corners. Often, there is not enough space for two cars to be side by side throughout the entire corner. The driver on the outside line will try to defend as best as possible, but in order to avoid a collision with the overtaking car, they may need to take evasive action by cutting the corner.

The driver will be given the opportunity to give the position back to the other car before the stewards give them a penalty for “leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage.” This is a penalty that we still often see in Formula 1 because of the complications involved in giving a position back to the car behind.

Moving Under Braking

When it comes to overtaking, moving under braking is one of the most important rules that Formula 1 has implemented. This rule essentially prevents drivers from blocking each other when overtaking into a corner, and it’s a serious safety concern too.

When a driver is defending their position from another car, they must commit to one line when braking into a corner. They can’t hit the brakes on the inside line and then suddenly shift to the outside line to block the car behind them.

This is because of the extremely dangerous situation it creates, since there is a higher risk of the driver causing a collision. The attacking driver is allowed to move under braking as long as they don’t have a car trying to overtake them, and they may need to move to avoid colliding with the car in front.

This is a dangerous scenario, because the car in front is slowing down and moving to different parts of the track. Slowing down could easily cause the other car to run into the back of them, especially when the attacking car has out-braked the defending car.

Why Are There Overtaking Rules?

There are overtaking rules because they help Formula 1 operate safely and fairly. These rules make overtaking difficult, but they ensure that every driver can compete in a safe manner. Because F1 cars race at such high speeds, there needs to be clear rules in place to allow it to happen safely.

As the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1 needs to set an example for clean racing. This, along with the fact that the cars cost millions of dollars, is why Formula 1 is strictly a non-contact form of racing. Overtaking must be done in a clean and safe manner at all times. After all, if something goes wrong during an overtake, there can be huge consequences.

Formula 1 also wants to keep the competition as fair as possible by preventing drivers from going off track to overtake and preventing them from blocking other cars when they are trying to overtake out on track.

Who Owns The Corner In F1?

Who owns the corner in F1 is the subject of much debate. Whoever owns the corner in Formula 1 has the right to take the racing line and dictate where they put their car on the track, as long as they leave enough space for the other car and don’t force them off the track.

For years, the rules dictated that the car that was ahead at the apex of the corner owned it. This meant that if the driver were able to out-brake another car and get to the apex first, the defending car would need to give way to the attacking car.

The problem with that was that the attacking car needed to be fully alongside the defending car in order for the defending car to have to yield position. This is why the crash at Silverstone in 2021 between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was so controversial, because of how much of Hamilton’s car was or was not alongside Verstappen’s.

The attacking driver needs to commit to an overtake from far back, but if they couldn’t get their car ahead of the defending driver, they would still need to yield and give the other driver space to dictate the racing line, which meant that they might have had to back out of the overtake.

This makes it tricky to make any overtakes, as you’re always coming from behind in order to make one stick, and it’s not always possible for a driver to get ahead of the car in front before they reach the corner. This has led to much debate over the years, with many rule changes brought in to try and clarify things further.

Rule Changes For 2022

The rules about who owns the corner were altered for the 2022 season and beyond. Following multiple clashes between Hamilton and Verstappen during their intense fight for the title in 2021, the rules had to be adjusted to ensure that drivers continue to race in a safe and fair manner, while knowing what is expected of them when they make overtaking moves.

The rules now state that the defending driver must leave “sufficient room to an overtaking car” if “a significant portion” of the overtaking car is alongside theirs. The overtake must also be done within track limits, and the cars are not allowed to go outside the white lines.

However, the FIA does not clarify what they mean by “a significant portion” of the car, so it’s still difficult to determine what that means. However, they do say “among the various factors that will be looked at by the stewards…they will consider if the overtaking car’s front tires are alongside the other car by no later than the apex of the corner.”

This leaves room for interpretation, and so like a lot of the rules in F1, how they’re enforced can vary from race to race, and from incident to incident.

Do F1 Drivers Need To Be Alongside In The Corner?

F1 drivers do need to be alongside the car that they are overtaking when going into the corner. How far alongside they need to be is not always clear. Drivers who dive into a corner late on the brakes will not be deemed to have the right to overtake if they cause a collision.

Drivers who are late on the brakes can out-brake their opponents and have a much faster speed before reaching the apex. This means that they would be alongside the other car for a split second before they turn into the apex. Clearly, just diving into corners in an erratic way to get ahead before the apex isn’t safe, so it’s not quite as simple as it may sound.

Often, a driver can be alongside by the tip of their wing, which would cause a collision between the cars if the car ahead of them turns into the apex of the corner. This is similar to what we saw happen at Silverstone in 2021, when the smallest bit of contact between the two cars had a catastrophic effect on Verstappen’s race.

In order to overtake safely and fairly, the drivers need to ensure that a “significant portion” of their car is alongside the defending car. This is much more than just the front wing, and stewards will be looking for the front wheels of the attacking car to be alongside the car they are overtaking. They will also take into account whether or not the attacking driver had full control of their car.

How Much Space Is Enough To Leave In F1?

F1 drivers need to leave at least one car’s width between themselves and the edge of the track during an overtake. If they do not leave enough space, it would be considered “forcing another driver off track,” which could result in a penalty, even if they don’t cause a collision.

It’s difficult to judge this while racing wheel to wheel, but there should never be a scenario where another driver needs to go off track in order to avoid causing a collision. Drivers often try to make their car as wide as possible, and if they want to close off a gap, they need to be sure that they are fully ahead of the other car. Most F1 drivers have the situational awareness to pull this off.

The rules have changed significantly over the years. In the past, leaving space for your opponent was simply not an option, and it was taken as a sign that you were giving up your position. However, after many crashes and incidents, F1 implemented these rules to try and make racing safer and decisions more consistent – whether the latter has occurred is still up for debate.

Why Owning The Corner Is So Controversial In F1

The rule of “owning the corner” in Formula 1 has become extremely controversial in recent years. That’s mainly because every overtaking move is unique, and it’s rare to find one that’s identical to another, even if some overtakes might have elements that are similar to others.

This means that you can’t just make a rule that says if the driver has the inside line, they own the corner. Therefore, stewards need to consider how far alongside the driver is when they have the inside line. A driver can be on the inside of another car but not have enough speed to overtake them through the corner.

With the same rule in mind, it would be impossible to overtake around the outside of a car too if you had no right to space because you’re not on the inside line, and the outside is where we see some of the most spectacular overtaking moves happen. Rules simply can’t cover every aspect of overtaking, which makes it incredibly difficult to set up a rule that determines who owns the corner.

Who Is At Fault For A Crash In F1?

It’s not always clear who is at fault for a crash in F1. On-track incidents often require a thorough investigation from the stewards, who will review all the available camera angles and telemetry from both cars to see which driver caused the incident.

The stewards will then come to a conclusion and penalize the driver who is at fault for the incident. However, there has been a lot of debate surrounding this system, as many incidents have received different penalties despite being very similar.

This is because each race features different stewards (much like different referees for different soccer games), and they are the ones who decide on the penalty that the driver receives. They can sometimes refer back to older incidents to bring in more consistency in their decision making.

What Is A Racing Incident?

We often hear the term “racing incident” being thrown around after a crash. This term is used when neither driver is deemed to be at significant fault.

When two drivers collide but neither one is deemed more in the wrong than the other, the collision will be declared a racing incident and neither driver will be given a penalty for the incident. The stewards will still investigate the incident thoroughly before declaring it to be a racing incident.

Final Thoughts

If the overtaking driver has the majority of their car alongside the defending driver at the apex of the corner, they usually own the corner. There are several factors to consider when it comes to which driver owns the corner in F1, making it very difficult to standardize.