Max Verstappen once again grabbed the headlines with an audacious move that had grabbed much attention during a chaotic second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With FP2 in Abu Dhabi having been plagued by two red flags after crashes from Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, the drivers were keen to get back out on track to ensure they got a bit of running before the session ended.
As the cars tried to build up a gap while exiting the pit lane to get some clean air, one driver wasn’t willing to wait around.
“I’m getting blocked,” Verstappen claimed, as he sought to justify his actions over the team radio.
Speaking to the media after the race, Verstappen offered a strong defence of his actions, accusing the others of "driving slowly."
"They have to get out of the way," Verstappen claimed. "I just wanted to get out there because we didn't have much time."
"They keep driving in the middle and when I try to pass them they cut me off."
The incident sparked memories of Sebastian Vettel’s double overtake in the pit lane at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, passing Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz who were slow on entrance to the pit-lane.
Vettel’s actions led some to complain about his behaviour but the German defended his move, stating it was legal under the rule book.
According to the handbook, the pit lane is not part of the track, so overtaking over the white line and, in Vettel’s case, under a safety car was perfectly legal.
The dicey moment caused a debate during and after the session among the Sky Sports pundits over whether Verstappen’s actions were acceptable.
“I think the stewards are going to have a look at this,” Croft said initially. “It’s just silly that. I don’t see the need for it.”
Former F1 world champion Damon Hill disagreed post-session, joking that it was the “overtake of the year.”
“I mean, when there was no room for error at all. It was very close racing.”
“Technically, he’s not done anything wrong but it’s just difficult. Max is just impatient and proving a point. Did he desperately need to get ahead?” presenter Simon Lazenby said.
Racing driver and pundit Naomi Schiff offered her assessment of the situation, discussing the steps the FIA have taken to address the way drivers have behaved in the pit lane.
“Post-Mexico, they did bring in this rule that the drivers should be on the left-hand side, which some of them were not in that case there. We saw it in Brazil when the when the thunder and the rain came out, you want to be out there, especially when you've got such a limited runtime,” Schiff explained.
“Clearly, Max wanted to be out there more than some of the others, impatiently. But we've seen this happen before and I wonder why drivers are still not keeping to the right. I wonder if, again here, when you have the pit-lane limit ending before the tunnel, drivers are able to continue and go forward but that pit-lane is still much longer. It's quite narrow, maybe a topic of conversation, for the drivers’ briefing,” she continued.
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