Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi has explained the decision-making process behind the issue of track limits at Turn 4 amid the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Bahrain.
Verstappen passed Hamilton for the lead around the outside of Turn 4 but exceeded track limits through the exit of the corner and relinquished the position later in the lap.
On Friday it was outlined that track limits would not be monitored exiting the right-hander but this was changed after FP1, with any lap time set by running wide duly deleted.
It was emphasised that the ruling regarding running wide and setting a lap time would not be monitored in race trim and applied only to FP2, FP3 and qualifying.
However it was also stressed that Article 27.3 of the Sporting Regulations still applied.
Article 27.3 states that drivers “must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times… and should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage.”
In the race some drivers regularly ran wide exiting Turn 4 but it was in the “gaining any lasting advantage” from doing so that affected Verstappen’s predicament when passing Hamilton.
Addressing media after the race, Masi explained that “if an overtake takes place with a car off track and gains an advantage, a lasting advantage, I will go on the radio and suggest to the team that they immediately relinquish that position, and that was made very clear.
“With regard to tolerance given with people running outside of the track limits during the race it was mentioned very clearly in the meeting [with drivers on Friday] 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.”
A radio communication mid-race was played out between Lewis Hamilton and race engineer Pete Bonnington, where it was outlined that Hamilton had been asked not to abuse the Turn 4 exit.
Hamilton confirmed post-race that “halfway through the race, they basically changed their minds and all of a sudden you’re not allowed to go outside that white line.”
Masi, though, disputed that stance, claiming that “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.”