Unlike the previous recent years, Red Bull entered the Bahrain grand prix with the fastest package. The Milton Keynes squad out-qualified the defending champions Mercedes by almost four-tenths of a second, an unprecedented feast at a season opener in the hybrid era. It was then commonly admitted that anything but a win for Red Bull would be a counter-performance, as they looked to be the favourites for the race win.
Coming Sunday however, things didn’t get their way, as Lewis Hamilton and his team, executed with military precision, an aggressive strategy to fend off the charge of Max Verstappen in the ultimate laps of the race and win the grand prix. Hamilton’s victory nonetheless sparked Verstappen and Red Bull’s dissatisfaction, as they saw the Briton exploit the track limits at Turn 4 to build his defense for half the race. The Dutchman hinted in that instance, at a way to police drivers in their usage of track limits, such as walls or gravel traps to put an end to the issue.
“Things can be easily resolved if you just put a wall there or gravel, it would help a lot”
Verstappen explained that he approached turn 4 the same way as he did in qualifying and asserted that changes shouldn’t occur in the middle of the race. He admitted however being fine with the policing of his overtaking outside of the track limits, whilst pointing at the inconsistency in ruling the usage of the said track limits and the arbitration of the advantages gained by drivers going wide.
“In qualifying we had to stay on the kerb, so that is also what I was doing in the race, to be clean, but then I heard that Lewis was just going wide, so I did it for two laps, but then I was not allowed to do it any more.”
“I don’t think you should be able to change it through the race. Either you can go wide, or not. I can understand of course with my overtake outside of the track limits that that’s not allowed, so that’s fine.”
“But if you cannot gain an advantage by going wide overtaking, why are you allowed to do it on your own? That is what I think is not correct.”
Despite Masi — F1 race Director — stating after the race that he had not changed the guidelines during the race, and adding that Hamilton was at risk of breaching the sporting regulations over gaining a lasting advantage, Verstappen said he wanted to discuss the matter during the drivers’ briefing on Friday.
“We will talk about that with the drivers and also with Michael about it, and we’ll see what comes out of it” Verstappen stated.
“I think it was a little bit messy in the race. I think everything before that was very strict, and I think good, how we handled everything”
“But definitely in the race, I think for 30 laps or something, Lewis was going wide, and you gain time there. I tried it for two laps, and then they told me not to, so it’s a bit odd.”
“About my overtake and whatever, I think yeah, that was fully understandable.”