Emanuele Pirro, who was the race steward for the season-opening F1 2021 race in Bahrain discusses how he would have penalized Max Verstappen had the Dutchman not given the position back to Lewis Hamilton.
During the final few laps, Red Bull’s Verstappen managed to overtake Mercedes’ Hamilton around the outside of turn 4 for the race lead. Unfortunately, the Dutchman had all four wheels of his Red Bull RB16B off the race track prompting the race officials to inform him to give the position back.
“He would have got a maximum 5-second penalty,” Pirro told Corriere dello Sport.
“You cannot overtake where you go over the track limits. Vertappen did so, although he did not do it on purpose, he simply went a bit straight/wide. At that moment Masi warned Red Bull and advised Verstappen to give back his position.
“A race official will never force anything, because he may not do that he may only suggest it. Verstappen gave back his position and we did not have to deal with the case specifically.
Pirro also discusses how the race director Michael Masi, also warned Hamilton and Mercedes regarding the Englishman’s exit at turn 4 during the race.
“Hamilton went over the track limits a little too often, creating a repeated advantage,” Pirro explained.
“So Masi, the only one with the authority to talk to the teams, called Mercedes to warn them that if Hamilton did it more often he would get the white black flag. That could end up giving him a penalty.
“He stopped immediately and that was that as far as Hamilton was concerned.”
Pirro also explained that the teams and drivers were warned about their approach to the turn with several drivers having their lap times deleted over the course of the weekend.
“It was clear both in practice and in qualifying that whoever went off track in Turn 4 would lose his lap time. This also happened several times to several drivers,” Pirro continued.
“Masi warned the teams that if one went over the track limits several times or benefited from it, the commissioners would assess the situation.”