Verstappen calls for clarity on 'messy' track limits rules

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has called on Formula One's governing body, the FIA, to come up with a single rule regarding the abuse of track limits after the issue caused controversy at the opening round of the season in Bahrain.

While Verstappen accepts that his overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the race in Bahrain was in breach of the rules, he questioned why some drivers were allowed to get away with running four wheels off the track earlier in the race.

Hamilton's car went beyond the white line defining the edge of the track at Turn 4 on 29 occasions during the race before he was told to keep his car within the lines over team radio.

Verstappen said he started to use the run off at Turn 4 too, believing it would offer a marginal lap time advantage, but was told soon after not to go beyond the white line.

In qualifying, race director Michael Masi set a clear rule that drivers would have their lap time deleted if they ended up with four wheels beyond the white line at Turn 4, but in the race the stewards were told not to monitor the corner unless a driver gained a lasting advantage, such as an overtaking move.

Verstappen said he would raise the issue at the drivers' briefing ahead of this weekend's race at Imola in the hope of gaining greater clarity.

"I can understand, of course, with my overtake outside of the track limits was not allowed, so that's fine, but if you cannot gain an advantage by going wide overtaking, why are you allowed to do it on your own?" Verstappen said. "That is what I think is not correct.

"So we will talk about that with the drivers and also with Michael about it, and we'll see what comes out of it. I think it was a little bit messy in the race.

"I think everything before that was very strict and I think good, how we handled everything. But definitely in the race, I think for 30 laps or something, Lewis was going wide, and you gain time there.

"I tried it for two laps, and then they told me not to, so it's a bit odd.

"About my overtake and whatever, I think yeah, that was fully understandable."

Verstappen added: "Things can be easily resolved if you just put a wall there or gravel, it would help a lot.

"In qualifying we had to stay on the kerb, so that is also what I was doing in the race, to be clean, but then of course I heard that Lewis was just going wide, so I did it for two laps, but then I was not allowed to do it any more.

"I don't think you should be able to change it through the race. Either you can go wide, or not."

Hamilton, who went on to win the race in Bahrain, played down the issue.

"All of a sudden I got the message in the race [that I wasn't allowed to go beyond the white line] and it was unclear initially ... but I didn't lose any time or gain any time.

"If anything it helped saved the tyres, but looking at the data it was just as quick. It was no real issue for me."

The race director's notes for this weekend's grand prix at Imola confirmed track limits would be monitored at the exit of Turn 9, the apex of Turn 13 and the exit of Turn 15 during practice, qualifying and the race.

It also confirmed three abuses of track limits during the race would result in a black and white warning flag, with a further abuse resulting in the driver being reported to the stewards.