Mercedes narrow win over Red Bull at the season opener was polemic after the turn 4 track limits, Verstappen took the lead at this turn of the track but he had to hand the position back to Hamilton -who had been using that line in repeatedly occasions-, Christian Horner commented that the use of that line was giving Hamilton an advantage of 0.2s per lap.
During the race Lewis´ engineer, Peter Bonnington, told him race control would give him a warning if he kept going off the track on turn 4.
At the start of the race weekend, Race Control told teams going off turn 4 on practice and qualifying would result in deleting their times but according to Race Directors wouldn’t be monitored during the Grand Prix.
FIA Race Director Michael Masi said:
“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 according with the Sporting Regulations that a lasting advantage overall must not be gained.”
“Nothing changed at all during the race,” he added.
“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.”
“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 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 that 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.”
The 2021 Formula One Sporting Regulations on Article 27.3 states that:
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. At the absolute discretion of the Race Director a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he gained by leaving the track.
The round two of the 2021 Formula 1 season in Imola is set for April 16th weekend.