Verstappen calls for clarity on ‘messy’ track limits rules

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has called on Formula One’s world governing body, the FIA, to establish a uniform rule on the abuse of track limits after the issue caused controversy at the season opener in Bahrain.

While Verstappen admits that his overtaking of Lewis Hamilton at the front of the race in Bahrain was a breach of the rules, he questions why some drivers were allowed to take all four wheels off the track earlier in the race.

Hamilton’s car crossed the white line defining the edge of the track at Turn 4 29 times during the race before he was ordered via the team radio to keep the car on the inside of the line.

Verstappen said he also started at Turn 4, believing it would give him a slight advantage in lap times, but shortly afterwards he was instructed not to cross the white line.

During qualifying, race director Michael Masi made it clear that drivers’ lap times would be erased if they were four wheels behind the white line in Turn 4, but during the race, stewards were instructed not to pursue the turn unless the driver had a long-term advantage, such as overtaking.

Verstappen said he would raise the issue at the drivers’ meeting before next weekend’s race in Imola in the hope of getting more clarity.

Max Verstappen in the paddock prior to the race weekend in Emilia Romagna. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Of course I can understand that overtaking outside track limits is not allowed, that’s fine, but if you can’t get the advantage by overtaking wide, why do it yourself? Verstappen said. That’s what I think is wrong.

We will talk to the drivers and Michael and see what happens. I think the race was a little muddy.

I think everything that came before that was very rigorous, and I think that’s the way we handled it. But in the race, I think after about 30 laps, Lewis was wide and then you gain time.

I tried two rounds and it wasn’t allowed, so it’s a little weird.

As for my death and everything else, I think, yes, it was pretty obvious.

Verstappen added: The problem could easily be solved by adding a wall or gravel, that would already help a lot.

In qualifying we had to stay on the kerb, so in the race I did the same to stay clean. But then of course I heard that Lewis was running wide, so I did that for two laps, but then I wasn’t allowed to do that anymore.

I don’t think you can change that during the race. Either you can get far or you can’t.

Hamilton, who won the race in Bahrain, downplayed the problem.

Suddenly I got a message in the race [that I wasn’t allowed to cross the white line], and it was incomprehensible at first….. But I didn’t lose or gain any time.

At best, it saved the tires, but viewing was just as fast. For me, it wasn’t really a problem.

Race control for the Imola Grand Prix has confirmed that the track boundaries at the exit of Turn 9, the apex of Turn 13 and the exit of Turn 15 will be monitored during practice, qualifying and the race.

She also confirmed that three traffic violations during the race will result in a black and white warning flag, and further violations will result in the driver being reported to the stewards.

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