After Lewis Hamilton won the Portuguese Grand Prix, Max Verstappen is now 8 points behind his British opponent in the drivers’ championship. The Dutchman could have reduced this amount to 7 if he had not exceeded track limits at turn 14.
In the last 3 laps of the race, Valtteri Bottas went for a risky strategy as the Finn decided to pit for the softest compound available to try to claim the fastest lap of the race. The current F1 point system rewards the fastest driver of each Grand Prix with one point if he finishes the race inside the top 10.
If Mercedes failed Bottas’ pitstop, he would probably have lost his position to Sergio Perez, which would have dropped Bottas outside of the podium and make him lose 4 precious points.
After Bottas pitted, Red Bull decided to mirror the Finn’s late decision, also attempting to claim an additional point, in order to close the gap to Hamilton in the championship standings.
During the last lap of the race, Verstappen won his battle against Bottas by just 0.016 of a second, breaking the 1 minute 20 barrier. Nonetheless, when the Dutch arrived at the Parc Ferme for his post-race interview, the race direction decided to delete Verstappen’s time as the stewards considered he exceeded the track limits at turn 14.
Verstappen was surprised and a little bit frustrated by the decision. He even stated that track limits were not monitored at turn 14, to express his incomprehension towards the decision.
“Oh really? That’s a good one,” Verstappen said after being announced his time was deleted.
“That is a bit odd because they were not checking track limits at Turn 14, but whatever.”
However, Verstappen was wrong as Michael Masi announced on Saturday that this corner was added to the ones monitored by the race direction. Track limits have been cruel towards Verstappen and Red Bull since the beginning of the season, as they already deprived him of a win at Bahrain.
Red Bull’s special advisor, Helmut Marko, also did not like the decision taken by the stewards at all. The Austrian pointed out that Lando Norris overtook Sergio Perez with four wheels out of the track during the race and was not handed any penalty or warning.
“Now we’ve lost the victory, fastest lap, and pole position,” Marko told Sky Sports Germany.
“All good things come in threes. I hope that’s the end of it.”
“Norris overtook Perez, went over with all four wheels, and there were no consequences. So it’s not consistent, and that’s not racing when you juggle the rules like that.”
The 78-year-old already mentioned that he is in favor of physical barriers rather than sensors to monitor track limits, in order to let the drivers take their own decisions and “automatically” get penalized if they decided to exceed the track limits.
“Something has to change. Either you make a boundary with curbs or you make gravel or something. If you go out, there’s an automatic penalty.”