By: Ashley McCubbin
With the typical Formula 1 narrative being Mercedes dominating with all of the others chasing, it was a refreshing sight to see Red Bull pace all three practice sessions, and Max Verstappen challenge Lewis Hamilton for the win.
However, rather than the potential rivalry between the pair being the focus, everybody is talking about track limits.
Verstappen had set-up Hamilton for a move, and was able to get to the outside and go by utilizing the outside of turn four. However, he was told to give back the position or be blackflagged, doing so in turn 10 and unable to capitalize once again.
The most confusing factor is having witnessed Hamilton follow the same line 29 times throughout the event, only to be handed a warning afterwards of a potential black flag coming.
“I’m equally confused like you,” Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff told the media. “At the beginning of the race it was said track limits in Turn 4 wouldn’t be sanctioned. And then in the race suddenly we heard that if you continued to run wide, it would be seen as an advantage and could cause a potential penalty. Which we debated with the Race Director but there’s nothing we could have done.”
Ultimately, the rule resulted in Mercedes in victory lane, but it does not change Wolff’s stance on the rules needing adjustments.
“They need to be clear, they need to be sacred and not a Shakespeare novel that leaves interpretation,” Wolff said. “We need to be consistent in which messages are being given… I think the learning of this is it needs to be simple, so everybody can understand it and they don’t need to carry the document in the car to read it and remind themselves what actually is allowed and what not.”
For their own right, FIA Race Director Michael Masi says the sanctioning body’s decision over the corner did not change throughout the event.
“With regard to tolerance given with people running outside of the track limits during the race,” said Masi, “it was mentioned very clearly in the [drivers’] meeting and the notes that it would not be monitored with regard to setting the lap time so to speak – but it will always be monitored in according with the Sporting Regulations that a lasting advantage overall must not be gained.
“Nothing changed at all during the race. We had two people that were looking in that area at every car at every lap and pretty much every car bar one was doing the right thing within what we expected in a general sequence. There was the occasional car that had a bit of a moment or went out there but it wasn’t a constant thing.”
Categories: Formula 1