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Drivers won’t get away with blocking in "intense" Sakhir qualifying - FIA

Drivers won’t get away with blocking in "intense" Sakhir qualifying - FIA

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Drivers won’t get away with blocking in "intense" Sakhir qualifying - FIA

Drivers won’t get away with blocking in "intense" Sakhir qualifying - FIA

Drivers have been warned they will not escape a penalty if they are seen to be blocking others in qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

There had been suggestions of leniency on obstructions this weekend because the short 3.543km Outer Track layout at the Bahrain International Circuit is likely to cause chaos in qualifying, with less distance to spread out all the cars.

But FIA race director Michael Masi warned: “In practice, we take a more liberal view, because it is practice, but during qualifying, it will be the standard elements [and] any unnecessary impeding will be investigated and reviewed on its merits.

"It’s certainly going to be hectic. It’s going to be quick-fire laps, so it’s certainly going to be intense in a different way. I don’t think having a short lap negates the need not to unnecessarily impede someone.”

The previously unused layout, which is the closest F1 has come to racing on an oval for many years, is expected to create a unique set of challenges for the teams.

Some sections of the track have aggressive kerbs and the presence of wide run-offs and open sections could see drivers going beyond track limits and even missing sections altogether.

Recent races have seen the FIA cancel out many lap times due to drivers exceeding track limits and Masi warned the stewards will again be keeping their eye out for any driver who gains an advantage from going off track.

Asked about the FIA’s stance on track limit penalties, Masi added: “It will be more short-cuts we are looking to monitor than track limits because of the nature of it - running behind apex kerbs rather than wide.

“We do change and evolve over a weekend and have done quite regularly this year. You evaluate during practice. If we need to make changes along the way, let’s make it.

“Again, we will see how we go in Friday practice and see what we need to do. It’s a completely new circumstance for everyone.

“It’s a good challenge to manage something different, and having spoken to a number of teams they’re looking at it in exactly the same way, something completely different.“

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