F1: What Constitutes Blocking?

Bit of a media frenzy over the battle between Hamilton and Schumacher at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Over the course of the first half of the race Schumacher was able to keep Hamilton behind him with some quite defensive driving and inspired positioning of his car through Monza's high speed corners.

Two moves have been called into question however, the first where Hamilton was forced onto the grass at the 170mph Curva Grande and the second approaching the tricky Lesmo corners where observers suggest the German changed line twice to defend his position, contrary to the rules which only allow one such change.

The first incident isn't worth discussing. Hamilton was never alongside Schumacher who therefore had the right to take his line through the corner, with the rule book requiring the following car to yield in these circumstances.

The second incident is harder to call. Schumacher makes a move to the right to block Hamilton, then moves back to the left to take the natural racing line through the corner. At the time that Schumacher moves left Hamilton is a long way behind and for that reason I don't believe that this constitutes a second defensive change of line. The stewards warned Mercedes that they were watching closely for any infringements yet no penalties were awarded. That suggests that the stewards and race director were all of a similar view that no offence had been committed.

So other than the British press taking the opportunity to kick their least favourite German, there isn't really a story here...

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