F1: New details show why Verstappen was robbed of his win at Bahrain GP
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The twists keep coming after a controversial finish to the year’s first grand prix forced Max Verstappen to give Lewis Hamilton the lead in the dying stages of the race.
Hamilton roared to victory in Bahrain — the first time since 2015 he’s won the season-opening race — while Verstappen had to settle for second after starting in pole position as Valtteri Bottas rounded out the podium in his Mercedes.
Verstappen was left fuming after overtaking Hamilton at Turn 4 to go ahead with three laps remaining. Officials correctly deemed he had executed the move while off the track but the Dutchman was angry at his team after the race for instructing him to allow the Mercedes to retake the lead — instead of just attempting to surge away and increase the lead to greater than the five-second penalty he would have been hit with.
“Why didn’t you just let me go, man?” he said on team radio. “I could have easily pulled those five seconds. I am prepared to lose a win like that than be second like this.”
However, clear footage shows Hamilton doing the exact same as Verstappen — taking all four wheels off the track at Turn Four — 29 times in the early stages of the race, before his team told him to cut it out, or risk copping a penalty.
Hamilton asked his race engineer why he had to suddenly change his approach mid-race, when F1 officials told drivers before the grand prix track limits would not be applied at Turn 4.
It was a view supported post-race by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who said drivers had been told they could cross the lines without punishment at Turn 4.
However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed “we were told suddenly during the race that track limits were imposed — and that is what won us the race today”.