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F1 should "put up a wall" to avoid track limits debate - Marko

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes the debate over Formula 1 track limits following Max Verstappen’s Bahrain defeat is “completely unnecessary”, saying officials should “put a wall there”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was engaged in a close battle with Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton throughout the F1 season-opener in Bahrain that was settled in the final stages.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton with four laps to go around the outside of Turn 4, but was forced to hand back the position after officials ruled that he made the overtake off-track.

Hamilton was then able to fend Verstappen off in the remaining laps, holding on for victory by 0.7 seconds.

Prior to Verstappen’s move, Hamilton was shown to be regularly running wide at Turn 4 after FIA race director Michael Masi said there would be no policing of track limits.

Hamilton was then forced to change his line after race control informed Mercedes it would be clamping down on track limits at Turn 4 mid-race following a request for clarification by Red Bull.

“We interpreted it too strictly,” Marko told Autosport's sister publication Formel1.de in an exclusive interview.

“Then we asked the race control: 'Hello, the Mercedes is driving continuously over [track limits] and have a time gain of two tenths - can we do that too?’

“And then we got a vague answer: 'Actually, no.' And then there was also the question of the black and white flag for Hamilton, because he was over it more often.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

But Marko accepted that the debate over track limits in Bahrain was now “pointless”, and questioned why there was so much run-off area at the exit of the corner that encouraged drivers to go so far wide.

“It happened, and it's completely unnecessary,” Marko said.

“There’s enough space there. Let's put up a wall and that'll be that. If you crash into the wall, you've damaged your vehicle.

“I don't know why we have so much run-off area on the tracks, and why we don't put a wall in there.”

The wall at Turn 4 lies beyond a run-off area and gravel trap, and brought an end to Verstappen’s Sakhir Grand Prix last December when F1 raced on the outer loop layout following an incident with Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Verstappen was heard on team radio after the race telling Red Bull that he preferred not to have given back the position and instead accepted a time penalty.

But Marko felt Verstappen would have been given an adjusted penalty to ensure the victory was given back to Hamilton.

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