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Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim


We’ve been pretty spoiled lately, I guess, with tight and unpredictable races in F1, and my general feeling after Sunday’s race in the spectacular Portimao was that it was a bit stable.

But come to think of it Monday morning, the winner was running third and had to pass two really quick car / driver combos to get the win and there was some nice wheel-to-wheel action all over the pitch.

There are many seasons we would have celebrated this.

Once again, the oddly lifeless tarmac, in terms of F1 tires, and windy conditions created some decent challenges and surprises. We have to absorb all the satisfaction we can from this undulating and unpredictable series of 15 bends in the dramatic countryside of southern Europe because after the pandemic it is not at all certain that the budget can be found for Portimao could return in the global tender for F1. races.

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim 1:17
Lewis Hamilton sweeps away Valtteri Bottas to take Portimao lead

Lewis Hamilton sweeps away Valtteri Bottas to take Portimao lead

For a record 15th time, the podium was made up of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, and once again Hamilton’s speed, racing and cunning won the day. Let’s also add precision and control.

With a win and two second places it’s been Max’s best start to the season, but he’s going to feel very uncomfortable with Mercedes’ increasing pace.

I disagree with Red Bull on the inconsistency of the track limits, and their claim that they have now been deprived of a win, a pole position and an extra point on the fastest lap. this season.

Motorsport is impressively and comprehensively controlled by the FIA ​​with paperwork and key personnel. This paperwork includes the International Sporting Code of 80 pages (bilingual), and specifically for F1, the Sporting Regulations of 88 pages, and finally the additional event notes of the Clerk of the Course. (There is another important set of technical documents and processes).

It was clear that turns 1, 4, 5 and 15 would be watched from the start for the lane limits. Then at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning a version 3 of the supplemental regulations was released and Turn 14 was widely mentioned in hot pink supplemental text.

The relevant fundamental track limit regulation, which we don’t actually stick to, says this:

27.3 Drivers must make all reasonable efforts to use the track at all times and may not leave the track without a justified reason.

Drivers will be deemed to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with it and, for the avoidance of doubt, any white line defining the edges of the track is considered to be part of the track but the curbs are not. .

The phrase about “ avoid all doubt ” is key, and Michael Masi, the clerk of the course, arguably after lobbying the drivers, actually gives significant leeway and allows the red and white sidewalk to be part of it. the track in the key corners, presumably so. that there are fewer infractions for busy stewards watching during a race, and letting the track sink a little more.

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim 2:25
Karun Chandhok explains why Max Verstappen’s fastest lap was deleted from last Portuguese Grand Prix tour

Karun Chandhok explains why Max Verstappen’s fastest lap was deleted from last Portuguese Grand Prix tour

But the point is that the rules are not properly enforced and could be much harsher by observing the white line that defines our playing field. If the cars are underweight 1 kg or a millimeter too wide, they are excluded from the ordeal. Why then should we neglect track control to make life easier for pilots?

As I mentioned in my previous column, if you run wide you can reduce the angle of the turn and carry more speed inside, through and outside to gain a few yards. This can be monitored in the mini timing loops as well as by observing the physical position of the car, but the timing loops will not say much unless the driver is on new tires and is on the move. ‘launches it.

The edging has been fundamentally lowered over the decades so that in some places it does not exceed a coat of paint. This was to prevent cars from being thrown into the air like Rubens Barrichello in Imola in 1994, and also to help prevent motorcyclists from being seriously injured.

The job of a runner thereafter is to minimize the distance of each lap and to maximize the angle of each turn. The job of the FIA ​​is to stop them.

You would laugh out loud if football ignored the goal or the touchline when it suited some teams, or if the cricket stumps were repositioned by a batsman as he saw fit, or if someone trying to beat Usain Bolt was just doing advance its starting blocks a few meters.

Only one driver was penalized in the race for breaking the limits of the track at turn 14 and this cost Verstappen and Red Bull a championship point as he gained an advantage and did not fully control his car within the limits. of the track.

As we know, barriers on road circuits are the best track limiting devices, but even then in Monaco there are two chicane areas where a driver can pass. Artificial turf is used in places, but it can drift. Otherwise I guess you need gravel trenches wide enough to deter pilots from creating their own track.

But it won’t necessarily work effectively for motorcycles or sports / GT / touring cars. In the meantime, he needs a very firm hand otherwise the drivers will always take more liberties.

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim

In Le Mans-style sports car races, the observation of the track limits is brutal and the drivers control their cars accordingly. Instead of driving my friend Jonathan Palmer’s business in Bedford, if you run wide and cheat the power cuts to the engine. This would be potentially dangerous at F1 speeds, but a driver could, for example, lose DRS activation for a few laps, although of course this is not a problem for them towards the end of the race.

I’m wondering if activating the rear wing of the DRS shouldn’t have an overall time limit per race anyway for each driver to be used as they wish in attack and defense, because again despite the loss of 120 meters in zone, he was a little too powerful on the pit straight on Sunday when combined with a wake in a headwind.

It did, however, generate some daring sweeps around the outside of the first high-speed corner for position, not least for Hamilton to overtake its two main rivals for a 97th victory. And it was well deserved too. If he was lucky with second place in Imola at Bottas’ expense after his big shunt with George Russell, then he certainly deserved this one.

Once again Lando Norris led a strong run for McLaren in fifth place to retain their third place in the championship, including an exceptional move around Esteban Ocon at turn 11.

Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton’s verdict on Portuguese GP victory and Red Bull’s track limits claim

Alpine had a very strong weekend, and the seventh and eighth were just rewards. Ocon was exceptional in qualifying and Fernando Alonso came to life in the second half of the race to show he still has what it takes behind the wheel of an F1 car.

Ferrari had a largely disappointing race and Aston Martin even more in this unusual place. We are now heading to everyone’s ultimate management circuit in Barcelona for this weekend’s race, and we’ll be better informed about the potential for the rest of the season from there.

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