In Formula 1, it is always a subject for debate where the track ends and the run-off starts. This comes in after gravel and grass have slowly started to disappear. This was an issue even at the latest race in Portimao.
During Q3, Verstappen set the fastest time but was not awarded pole after it was deleted for crossing track limits.
During the final lap of the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutchman again managed to score the fastest lap but was charged with a penalty yet again for crossing track limits.
His Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez was also involved in a similar controversy as Lando Norris seemed to go off track to complete a pass but was blind-sighted by the stewards.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner seems to think that there is a lack of consistency in how these rules are enforced. He was however pleased with both the Red Bull drivers’ performances based on how they managed to split the Mercedes team.
“Well we’ve managed to split the Mercedes,” Horner told Sky F1.
“You can see it’s very, very marginal. Marginal gains. I think we were better on the medium tyre and Mercedes looked a little stronger on the harder tyre today.
“It was frustrating not to get that point at the end [for fastest lap] but we’ll definitely take that [P2 and P4].
“Track limits are a bone of contention and the consistency of their application. This Championship will come down to all the marginals.”
When he was asked about Norris’ pass on Perez, Horner said, “He got overtaken with a car going over the track limits. That’s what I’m saying…we get a document from the FIA, it changes one day to the next and the application of these [rulings] are frustrating. Sergio was super frustrated by that.
“Once he was clear of the McLaren, his race pace was really good. We kept him out late to get him onto that softer tyre towards the end to have a go at the fastest lap. He managed to get that but obviously Valtteri responded and then we responded again with Max.”
Horner also made it clear that this series of races is a “marathon and not a sprint”. His focus is on the fact that Red Bull tried to counter Mercedes on a track that favoured the latter.
He also mentioned the point that Hamilton was saved during the previous race by the red flag after George Russell and Valtteri Bottas’ crash.
“It’s still at the early stage and we saw Lewis make a howler of a mistake last race weekend and he got away with it with the red flag, so yeah these things are going to happen,” Horner explained.
“But I think Max is driving the wheels off the car and it’s super, super tight between them.
“It’s race three and we’re only eight points behind in the drivers? It’s nothing. This Championship is going to be about being a marathon and not a sprint. We knew this track was going to favour Mercedes so to push them and split them the way we have is really encouraging. Next week will be another litmus test.”
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