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Should blocking tactics at the start be declared illegal ?

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Prior to the Austrian Grand Prix, David Coulthard complained about Michael Schumacher's blocking tactics at the start of the French and San Marino Grands Prix. However, at the drivers meeting, most drivers and FIA delegate Charlie Whiting declared the move as legal and safe.

At the German Grand Prix, David Coulthard veered across in front of Michael Schumacher clearly as a blocking tactic. That move forced Schumacher to change his line and ended right in front of Fisichella who bumped into him resulting in both crashing out.

Michael Schumacher refused to blame David Coulthard for the incident as Coulthard's move is precisely what Schumacher claims as a legal move. Coulthard on the other hand said that he was racing within the rules (which were clarified a couple of weeks ago) and so he did nothing wrong.

The problem is that drivers could now be taking the rule into their own hands and we could see a tragic accident at the start of a race as a result.

Should blocking tactics at the start of a race be declared illegal ? how do you suggest it should be governed ? or should the drivers just fight it out regardless of the consequences ? What do you think ?  (What others are saying)

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What others are saying:

As cut-throat as F1 has become, drivers still expect and usually receive gentlemanly behaviour from their peers. Blocking at the start is the glaring exception, is an unnecessary risk and should be regulated. I would paint a solid centreline to about 100m ahead of the grid and disqualify any driver crossing this line on the start, except under specific circumstances e.g. to pass a stalled car - Doug - South Africa

We think that some rules should be declared, because each pilot minds his own success and not his safety and the safety of his colleagues. We give as an example Michael Schumacher who failed two successive starts (Austria & Germany), because of stupid mistakes. Besides it is very dangerous, too - Vessie - Bulgaria

Nobody complains if Minardi DRIVERS used the fish tail movement in front of Peugeot or Arrows cars. It is easy to say and blame the guy in front for your absence of intuition and reaction. But lets see when the blockage is illegal. If the front driver changes the line once at time (ie from left to right) to defend his next action - first turn usually, this is legal. Schumacher style is legal in this point of view, but the second, third, fourth driver don't agree with this. So if you go left, right and back left  IN FRONT OF YOUR adversary is clearly illegal and can be fatal for that driver. So Gentlemen lets review France and Austria. You are the judges for your fair opinion,and you'll find out that the best weapon for defense is to attack. In my opinion the fish tail is illegal. Plus is not fair play but unfortunately this notion doesn't exist anymore in the world of Formula One - Marian - Romanian living in USA

I believe drivers should fight it out regardless. The qualifying trials are very tough at times and there appears to be much strategic planning. It is the trials that set-up the grid and I believe that that is a fair way to set-up the staggered start. On tracks where overtaking is tight or impossible (Monaco) for sure there is going to be a dash to take first spot. That is the excitement of F1! - Joe W - Indonesia

In response to Elvin's comment that the drivers can correct their misfortune, I have to disagree. The most obvious example is of course Michael Schumacher. Hate to break it to you Elvin, but once you're out of the race like Schumi's been, it's pretty damn hard to 'correct the misfortune.' And Josephine, Schumacher is a brilliant driver, but not even he saw Fisichella from behind him in time. Charlie Whiting was perfectly correct declared it legal, but safe is incorrect. It shouldn't be legal, and it's definitely not safe. Sorry to be harsh, but it's obvious to me that something has to be done about it. As I said before, and as several other have as well, if an accident due to blocking occurs within either a set time or, as Miker suggested, the first lap, the race should be restarted. I'm sure everyone is aware of the tragedy in the waste of so much money, effort and time of such incidents. I know formula 1 is never fair, but aren't rules designed to make it as fair and safe as possible? - Callista - Australia

I think that when they wrote the rule it was assumed that blocking happened sometime after the first turn - Jim - USA

I think that blocking tactics at the start of a race should not be declared illegal, because Formula One is a race that mixes together the skills and talent of the individual pilot and the strategy of the entire team. Since blocking is an item of all the strategies in sports, why it should be banned at Formula 1?

Also a final point. Since all the F1 pilots are stars (in driving), they all are capable to manage such a situation, and since each Grand Prix is more than 305 km long, they have enough time and road ahead to correct "the misfortune" of being blocked by any driver - Elvin M - Albania

No, I think skillful drivers are able to avoid bumping into each other. I think Schumacher is a brilliant driver!  - Josephine - Malaysia

It is Formula 1 Racing. Too much control is not expected. Depending on the race track, if the start line has a dangerous corner. I think rolling start is necessary. That will promise that the qualifying session is meaningful. Also we like to see different start methods during the season - Humane W - Taiwan

If race tracks continue to be laid out with tight corners close to the start line then there will be no way to enforce a rule preventing blocking moves. On the other hand if the start line was followed by a 180 mph straight before the first corner then you have the probability of bigger and better pile ups! Take your pick! - Arthur W - USA

This is Formula One, right? F1 has the best drivers in the world. The stakes are high and end results are what counts. That means a driver will eventually try anything within the limitations of rules to win. So, Coulthard's surprise move on Schuey was suppose to give David an edge, but it backfired. Mika was there to take advantage of it. Blocking is a legit strategy when it works. It is done in every team sport
Also, if there is a wreck on the first lap the race should be restarted - Miker - USA

u have to remember that the start of the race (besides pit strategy) is the most important part of the race ... if cars were able to pass during the race, I think you'd see a lot less of these maneuvers at the start ... I like the idea of red flagging the race a certain time after the race starts (due to a crash) ... and also ... if u hold ur line and someone swerves in-front of u ... u hold your line ... then let FIA see incar camera views of those involved in the crash and let them determine fault (and hope they get it right) - Jimmy M - USA

I think that there is nothing wrong with a driver choosing his line even if that brings him in front of another driver. However, I believe that once he has chosen his line he should not be allowed to move across again. It is a rule which I thought was official but needs to be controlled with heavier penalties. Senna was an expert at weaving from side to side... Bruno A - Australia

I agree with Callista 100%, blocking is all part of F1 and team tactics. Hence the old saying "If you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen." However I also agree that if two or more drivers crash out of the race on the first lap, the race should automatically be red flagged and a restart permitted - Brown Dog - Arabian Gulf

It should definitely not be declared illegal. Formula 1 is all about being the best, even if that means moving to a line that happens to block someone. But something should be done about the unfortunate that crash and are consequently pulled out of the race.
For the beginning of races, I believe that all crashes within a set time should be red flagged if it wasn't the fault of the otherwise retired drivers - Callista - Australia

Coulthard's move at the start in Germany was outrageous, however he was clearly trying to make a point and Schumacher's spin was not directly related.

I don't think blocking in this way should be outlawed, simply because in the long run it will be shown that the drivers that do this more often than not do not gain from it (remember Coulthard did not lead into the first corner) - Dunder - Hong Kong

Blocking another driver in starting race is not a gentlemen move, each driver should maintain their line up to  certain distance before they could split other line. Probably after 500m of starting grid - Frankie - Malaysia

Intentional blocking at the race start should be banned.   It's not tolerated in the race so why at the start.  It isn't good for racing and could result in a serious accident and injury.  It could also been seen as "playing team orders" - Matthew M - Australia

well I think it ok, so long the driver know how to control their car, and I think one of the reason that what make formula 1, one of the most dangerous machine - Sharifah - Singapore

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