FIA race director Michael Masi has explained why F1 championship leader Max Verstappen escaped punishment for his off-track excursion in the opening moments of the French Grand Prix.
Ahead of the race at Paul Ricard, the instruction was clear that if a driver leaves the track at turn one, they must drive through the bollards on the escape road before joining to the inside of the track after turn two.
Verstappen, however, lost the rear of his car on the exit of the first corner and was unable to follow this procedure due to the angle of his car.
Masi said: “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 manoeuvre around because it depends on the trajectory you are arriving towards those blocks.
“Obviously, they are put there at what has historically been the most common trajectory of going off at turn one and rejoining.
"It was looked at and deemed that in that circumstance it was quite clear that Max slowed, lost a position, rejoined in a safe manner and therefore no further action was necessary.”
Red Bull avoids Bahrain repeat
In the Bahrain season-opener, Verstappen was instructed to hand the lead back to title-rival Lewis Hamilton after passing the Mercedes driver whilst off the track.
Late in the race, the Red Bull pit wall will have had flashbacks to this moment with Mercedes believing Sergio Perez had pulled such a move on Valtteri Bottas for the final podium position.
The moment, which was looked at by the stewards but was deemed legal, also took Masi back to Bahrain in his memory.
He added: “If we had looked at it probably compared to the incident in Bahrain earlier in the year where Max, on the other hand, actually overtook another car off the track, that is why he was deemed he had to give the position back.
“So two very different circumstances when trying to compare those two incidents.”
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