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Max Verstappen

Why weren't Verstappen and Bottas penalised?

Both Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas went off track and rejoined incorrectly during the French Grand Prix, so why weren't they penalised?

Verstappen France
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To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas both had off track moments during the French Grand Prix that went unpunished, despite breaking the rules laid out in the Race Director's notes ahead of the weekend.

Drivers were permitted three such 'offs' during the race, but only provided they followed the strict rejoin procedures that involved going through bollards in the escape area before resuming the track. Neither Verstappen nor Bottas went through these, and this raised the obvious question of why neither were punished for their incidents.

"Turn 1 they looked at individually on their merits," said FIA Race Director Michael Masi about Verstappen's off at Turn 2 on the first lap.

Leading the race from pole, Verstappen made an error and went off and cut the apex of Turn 2 but lost position to Lewis Hamilton as a result.

"Based on where Max went off, and I think we saw Max going off in that area the other day where it was quite clear that it would have been physically impossible to actually get to that point and maneuver around because it depends upon the trajectory of which you're arriving towards those blocks," Masi explained.

"Obviously, they are put there for what has historically been the most common trajectory of going off at Turn 1 and rejoining and it was looked at and deemed that, in that circumstance, it was quite clear that Max slowed, lost a position and rejoined in a safe manner. And therefore no further action was necessary."

As for Valtteri Bottas, who went off at Turn 4 and lost around three seconds as he slowed and rejoined the track, the Finn failed to go around the blocks on the outside, as Haas' Mick Schumacher did obediently on the fifth lap of the race.

"That matter was reviewed straightaway once it happened," Masi said, " to have a look at what occurred and, consistent with what the drivers were advised and what the team managers were advised on Thursday and Friday, respective meetings, the team managers meeting and the drivers meeting is that each of those would be considered on their merits to have a look at the entire element of the circumstances involved.

"It was deemed that where Valtteri actually did go off at the apex of Turn 4 that he actually probably did the safest thing in those circumstances, lost a significant amount of time, and rejoined in a safe manner.

"Therefore, it was deemed that no further action was necessary. However, it was counted as one of his, let's call it, three strikes towards a black and white flag. It was certainly one of the three that was taken into account, which was his only one during the race."

F1 2021 French Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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