Hamilton confused by track limit rules, Michael Masi explains

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton exceeded track limits at the same corner 29 times, before race control asked him to stop, while Max Verstappen had to relinquish his lead for the same offense. Race Director Michael Massi explains why.

At the Bahrain Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton ran wide in Turn 4 for 29 consecutive laps, before his race engineer Peter Bonnington “Bono” informed him that race control demands him to stop or he will be penalized.

Hamilton seemed confused about this on the team radio and questioned the instruction. After the race he clarified his confusion.

“I think it is very confusing,” Hamilton said.

“At most tracks we’re not allowed to put four wheels outside the white line, but this weekend and at that particular corner, we weren’t allowed to on Friday.

“In actual fact, you could go two wheels outside the line, but you can’t go past the blue and white kerb. But in the race you can, and that was what had been written.

“So when we go into the race, then you can. But it’s quite a different corner when you have to do one or the other in terms of approach. And it is faster when you can go out.”

“Halfway through the race they basically changed their minds and all of a sudden you’re not allowed to go outside that white line.”

“Which is fine for me, it’s actually I think faster in the end for me, and helped me look after my tyres, actually.

“So I’m grateful for the call,” concluded the Briton.

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Later near the end of the race, Max Verstappen overtook Hamilton by running wide in the same corner, but race control asked him to give the position back to the Briton or face a penalty. Race Director Michael Masi explains the decision.

“Red Bull were actually given an instruction immediately by myself, that I suggested that they relinquish that position as listed in the Sporting Regulations, which they did,” Masi said.

“It wasn’t for exceeding the track limits. It was for gaining a lasting advantage by overtaking another car off the racetrack.”

Masi goes on to explain that there were no changes in how they approached the situation throughout the race.

“No, nothing changed at all. We had two people that were looking in that area, every car 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 and went out there but it wasn’t a constant thing.

“With regard to the tolerance given to people running outside of the track limits during the race, it was mentioned very clearly in the Friday driver’s meeting in the notes that it would not be monitored with regards to setting the lap time, so to speak.

“However, it will always be monitored in accordance with the sporting regulations being a lasting advantage must not be gained.

“The notes were updated between FP1 and FP2 as a result of what we were seeing. And it was made very clear that in the practice and qualifying that it would be all four wheels to the left of the red and white curve.

“So there was nothing, nothing changed during the race, nothing changed at all during the race,” concluded Masi.

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