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Bahrain Grand Prix 2021

FIA way of thinking still a mystery to F1 drivers

It's been more than a week, but track limits remains a talking point for F1 drivers after the Bahrain Grand Prix. The drivers still aren't clear on how race directors managed track limits over the course of the first race weekend.

Verstappen Hamilton Bahrein
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To news overview © FIA

During practice and qualifying in Bahrain, Formula 1 drivers were forced to say goodbye to their lap times as soon as their tyres were off track at Turn 4. However, that all changed during the race.

It certainly generated controversy, as Lewis Hamilton made the most of this inconsistency by the FIA race directors and drove outside the track limits 29 times during the race, something his pursuer Max Verstappen did not. It's believed the Brit gained about 0.2 seconds per lap until he was told half way through the race to tone it down.

Hamilton and Verstappen were both puzzled by the situation after the race was over. "It's very confusing," Hamilton stated. Verstappen echoed those sentiments.

"I was told during the race that some drivers were going wide at Turn 4, then I was told to do the same," the Dutchman said. "So I did, then I was told again that it wasn't allowed. So I have no idea..."

After the race weekend RacingNews365.com asked other drivers about their thoughts on the track limits, how they handled them and whether the rules were clear. Carlos Sainz said he understood them, but didn't understand the FIA's train of thought.

"For me, as a driver, it was clear what was and was not allowed during the race," the Ferrari driver stated. "What I don't understand is why it changed from day to day.

"It seems difficult for everyone at home on the couch to follow what is going on with all those changes. Anyway, I knew I had to let the other car pass the moment I abused the track limits."

Teammate Charles Leclerc agreed, making it clear that the constant changes over the race weekend didn't help matters.

"The rules were clear to us drivers, that we could cross the line during the race, but not for overtaking or anything like that," the Monegasque driver said. "However, I don't understand why it changed compared to Saturday. I think it would have made more sense to just leave the rules unchanged from day to day. To be honest, I really don't understand why it changed."

Race director Michael Masi didn't understand all the commotion after the race, defending the message he told drivers prior to the race weekend.

"Regarding the track limits during the race, the drivers were clearly told in the notes that these would not be monitored during the race when it came to lap times," said the Australian.

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