Throughout the 2011 Formula 1 season, we’ve seen plenty of on track skirmishes. In some of the battles, it was clear who was in the wrong, while some were more debatable. The FIA has now issued new rules regarding defending positions, to put it clear for all.

The ruling body has decided that drivers defending their position will be allowed to move back onto the racing line, but must leave enough room between their car and the edge of the track. Only one move will be allowed.

“More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off-line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner,” reads the new regulation.

Another newly clarified rule states that lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the field during safety car periods.

“If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” is shown on the timing monitors, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car. This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed.

While this is going on, “the cars on the lead lap must always stay on the racing line unless deviating from it is unavoidable”.

The 20-race 2012 season starts in Australia on 18 March, before the teams head to Sepang the following week for the Malaysian GP. Bahrain is back in the calendar and F1 returns to America for the United States GP in November.