Should Max Verstappen return the position to Lewis Hamilton? This is the main debate that agitates observers of Formula 1 after the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
On lap 53, the Dutchman managed to take control of the race by passing the Briton. But the maneuver led Verstappen to push the limits from the track to the famous turn 4. In the process, the Red Bull driver returned the position then finished second.
“Obviously, Max came out wide,” commented Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. Before the race it had been made clear that if anyone had an advantage by going out wide at that spot, they had to give it back. The team asked Max to do it, he complied. “
The order came from above. “We received an instruction from the clerk of the course to return the place immediately,” continues Horner. Lewis had just enough headroom to hold his position until the end of the race. Had we taken the risk of receiving the five-second penalty by not surrendering position, there is no guarantee that we could have secured the lead necessary to win the race. Max did the right thing. “
With four laps to go, Max takes almost certain victory from Lewis
– Formula 1 (@ F1) March 28, 2021
On this point, the debate is closed. But the controversy arises above all from the fact that Lewis Hamilton blithely crossed the limits of the track at this turn throughout the race, without collecting a penalty.
“It was frustrating,” said Horner. As soon as Mercedes started pushing, they used this part of the track as if it was normal. We asked the race management if this was allowed, as there is a two tenth advantage using this part of the circuit. The clerk of the course finally asked Mercedes to respect the limits otherwise they would have a black and white warning flag and then a penalty. “
All at the end of the race, when the damage was done. “With such track limits, they will always be controversial,” added Horner. But we just need to have a consistent situation. You can’t say on the one hand that you can exceed the limit while racing, and on the other hand you can’t overtake there. The ruler should be black or white, but not gray. “
The debate is likely to resurface in three weeks at Imola during the next Grand Prix. Indeed, the monitoring of the limits at the level of turns 9 and 15 had caused much ink to flow last season. The eternal soap opera.