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Formula 1

‘No outcome’ – F1 drivers sound off after racing rules briefing

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Multiple Formula 1 drivers have expressed their frustration after the drivers’ briefing held in the wake of the controversial incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Brazil yielded “no outcome”.

Verstappen and Hamilton came to blows while fighting for the lead of the Brazilian Grand Prix with Verstappen outbraking himself at the Turn 4 left-hander and sending both himself and Hamilton off the track.

Verstappen held onto the lead and escaped without the FIA investigating the incident – a decision that Mercedes unsuccessfully petitioned to review after Interlagos.

Max Verstappen Red Bull Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1

The drivers met on Friday ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Qatar GP to discuss what was acceptable with the FIA.

But George Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, admitted he didn’t feel the meeting provided much in the way of clarity.

“I think unfortunately there was no outcome from yesterday, but I do appreciate that you need to treat every single case by case at the circuit,” a frustrated Russell said after qualifying when asked by The Race about the outcome of the meeting.

“For me, that [Verstappen’s defence against Hamilton] was not even close to the line, it was well beyond the line what went on. If this was the last lap of the race, that would have been a slam dunk penalty in my mind for Max.

“You can’t just outbrake yourself by 25 meters and do that.

“Max wasn’t punished purely because Lewis won the race, but the consequences shouldn’t be a factor in the punishment for the judgement of the incident.

“You have to judge the incident on a case-by-case basis. That’s what they’ve always told us, it’s not the consequence of that incident, it is the incident itself.”

Hamilton expressed his own frustration at the lack of clarity, speaking after he claimed pole position in Qatar.

“Every driver apart from Max was asking for clarity, but it wasn’t very clear,” Hamilton explained.

“It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. It’s clearly not the white line anymore.

“We just ask for consistency. So if it’s the same as the last race for all of us in all scenarios then that’s fine.”

Russell also criticised the stewards’ decision to hand AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda a 10-second penalty for his collision with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri F1 Brazilian GP

“Equally the incident with Tsunoda and Stroll, there was no way Tsunoda should have been penalised for that,” Russell added.

“He was absolutely right to go for the move, wasn’t out of control, wasn’t locking up, and he still comfortably made the apex.

“That was a little bit unfortunate for all of us drivers, the outcome of the results last week.”

Tsunoda himself said a couple of his fellow drivers were defensive of his actions in the drivers’ meeting, and he labelled the stewards’ decision-making as “quite inconsistent”.

When Russell’s comments were put to fellow GPDA director Sebastian Vettel by The Race, the four-time world champion said Russell gave a “good summary” and declined to add any further comments.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was among those most vocal about the lack of consistency, claiming there will be “big conversations” regarding what’s acceptable in wheel-to-wheel combat over the winter break.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1

“We need to rethink the whole approach because the way it’s been working, it’s clear that the drivers don’t fully understand what is going to happen depending on what you do,” Sainz said.

“I need to know if I can push the car on the outside wide and what am I going to get if I do so.

“Do you have a warning coming? Can you do it once? Do you have a possibility to do it a couple of times and then you get a warning, and then you can do it a fourth time? Are you going to get a penalty straight away like in Austria?

“This is what we don’t know as a sport or as drivers. We were seeking for answers, we got some from Michael [Masi, FIA race director], but we know sometimes Michael and stewards are not always exactly the same.

“As a sport we need to make it as black and white as possible.”

Sainz’s fellow countryman Fernando Alonso – one of the biggest critics of the stewards’ lack of consistency this season – reiterated the need for “black and white” rules.

“When they [the rules] are grey, sometimes you feel you benefit from them and sometimes you’ve been the idiot on track again,” Alonso said.

“So, it’s better when it’s black and white. And let’s see if we can improve all together – I think it’s not only FIA issue, but also drivers, teams, FIA, we all need to work together to have better rules.”

He also said the FIA’s explanation for no Verstappen penalty made sense but wasn’t in line with previous decisions, before quipping: “But… they are always right. That is the problem.”

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