Verstappen: Hamilton failed to follow F1 racing rules on opening lap

Max Verstappen says Lewis Hamilton’s move on him on the exit of Turn 3 at the start of the Australian Grand Prix was not in line with F1’s latest racing rules.

From pole, Verstappen was beaten into Turn 1 by Mercedes’ George Russell, leaving the Dutchman to then defend from Hamilton as the pair exited Turn 2.

But the Red Bull driver exerted caution under braking for Turn 3 while Hamilton made an aggressive move up the inside and then ran wide, failing to give Verstappen any room on the outside as the rules prescribe.

“We had a very poor start and then lap one I was careful because I had a lot to lose and they had a lot to win,” said the Red Bull driver after Sunday’s chaotic race.

Last year, the FIA published guidelines that require a driver moving up the inside of another to have a significant portion of the car alongside the car being overtaken, but also require that the maneuver be completed “in a safe and controlled manner” that enables the car being overtaken to remain “within the limits of the track”.

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It was the latter point upon which Verstappen frowned in his wheel-to-wheel tussle with Hamilton.

“From my side, I just tried to avoid contact,” he added. “It’s quite clear in the rules what you’re allowed to do now on the outside. Clearly, it’s not followed, but that’s okay.

“But we had good pace. We passed them anyway. But it’s something for the next races to take into account.”

    Read also: Verstappen wins in Australia after chaotic late restart

Verstappen said the early part of his race was just a DRS waiting game, while he wasn’t convinced that all three of the red flags deployed during the event were justified.

“I think the pace of the car was quick, you could see that straight away,” he said. “We were always there waiting for the DRS to open up to have a chance to pass.

“But yeah, with these red flags, I don’t know, the first one maybe you can do it, but I think that second one I don’t really understand. So it was a bit of a mess.

“But yeah, we survived everything. We had good pace in the car today again and we won, which of course is the most important.”

Ahead of the final red flag triggered by debris scattered by Kevin Magnussen’s Haas after the Dane had hit the wall, Verstappen veered off course onto the grass at the penultimate corner after a minor lock-up. Fortunately the off was inconsequential.

“I didn’t want to flat spot the tyre completely, so I ran a bit wide but we had a good margin,” he said.

“It’s great to win here, my first win as well. It’s been a while for the team as well.”

Indeed, Red Bull’s last win in Melbourne was in 2011 with Sebastian Vettel.

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