FIA Race Director Confirms Telling Red Bull to Let Hamilton Past Verstappen Over F1 Track Limits

Published 03/30/2021, 4:40 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Lewis Hamilton drove one of the more supreme drives of his career as he won Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. He crossed the chequered flag 0.7 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen, in one of the more thrilling season-openers in recent history. However, the aftermath of the race saw a touch of controversy. FIA Race Director Michael Masi clarifies why he asked Red Bull to give up track position on Sunday.

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In the final laps of the race, Verstappen had made a pass on the Brit at turn 4, which resulted in him taking the lead in the race. However, while doing so, he fell foul of the track limits of the circuits as he gained a “lasting advantage”. This resulted in him having to hand the lead back to Hamilton and eventually losing to him.

FIA Race Director clarifies why he asked Red Bull to give up track position

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In an interview following the race, FIA Race Director Michael Masi explained how the rules work in relation to the track limits at the circuit.

“With regard to tolerance given with people running outside of the track limits during the race. 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 accordance with the Sporting Regulations that a lasting advantage overall must not be gained.”

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 28, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Masi clarified why he asked Red Bull to give up the lead. He said, “So it is quite different and clearly specifically different and consistent with both notes. And what was mentioned and discussed with drivers in the driver meeting.

“If an overtake takes place with a car off the 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.

“Red Bull were actually given an instruction immediately by myself. I suggested they relinquish that position as listed in the Sporting Regulations, which they did. It wasn’t for exceeding track limits. It was for gaining a lasting advantage by overtaking another car off the race track.”

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Should the Austrian team be disappointed with the outcome of the Bahrain Grand Prix?

The Austrian team should not be disappointed by the outcome of the race on Sunday. They were clearly the superior car and were pipped by a more clever strategy on Mercedes’ part. In fact, if they were a little luckier, they could have won the race.

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Verstappen was insane during Qualifying. And while Sergio Perez didn’t do that well in Qualifying, he recovered during the race to finish fifth. The team will be looking at the positives of the weekend and maybe work on their strategy a bit more. If that happens, they will win many races in 2021.

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Ashish Thomas

211 articles

Ashish Thomas is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having followed motorsports since age 5, Ashish holds an enviable knowledge of F1 history. Ashish holds extensive experience in sports writing, having previously worked for SportsQuest and Fansided.

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