Verstappen loses fastest lap bonus point: 'That’s a good one!'

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal. 02.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao
© XPB 

Max Verstappen was not impressed when he was told that he'd missed out on earning a bonus championship point for setting the fastest lap of the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen had looked in contention for victory early in the race after overtaking Lewis Hamilton during a restart following an early safety car period.

But Hamilton was subsequently able to retake the position, and by the closing stags of the race had pulled out a safe advantage over Verstappen and the rest of the field at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.

“I had a good restart and then of course I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri," Verstappen said in parc ferme after the finish. "But at the end I think we just lacked a little bit of pace overall, so Lewis got by once again."

Verstappen did pick up a position by passing pole sitter and early leader Valtteri Bottas as they pitted on consecutive laps and Bottas slid wide trying to heat up his new hard compound tyres.

“After the pit stop I think the warm-up is super hard on these tyres," Verstappen said, while admitting that overall Mercedes had the edge today. "Once we settled in second you could clearly see around here we were lacking a bit of pace compared to them.

"This was in general a bit of an odd weekend in terms of grip, and we were not on top of it here, but we'll see again what we can do in Barcelona," he added.

With the win no longer in sight, Red Bull opted to bring Verstappen in for a 'free' late pit stop and a change to the fastest soft compound tyres in a bid to scoop the bonus point, which he duly accomplished.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B battle for position. 02.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao

Or at least, he thought he had until the race stewards deleted his time for exceeding track limits at turn 14.

“Oh really? That’s a good one,” Verstappen said when he was told about the decision by Sky Sports F1 presenter Paul di Resta. “That is a bit odd because they were not checking track limits at Turn 14. But, whatever.”

In fact updated instructions from race director Michael Masi handed to the teams on Saturday had indeed added turn 14 as one of those parts of the circuit where track limits would be enforced.

As a result of losing the bonus point to Bottas and with Hamilton winning the race, Verstappen is now eight points behind the reigning world champion in the drivers standings, having come into the weekend just one point in arrears.

“Track limits are a bone of contention aren’t they?” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky F1. “And the consistency of their application.

ergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 02.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao

“We get a document from the FIA, it changes from one day to the next and the application of these are frustrating."

Horner pointed out that Verstappen's team mate Sergio Perez had also lost out on Sunday after McLaren's Lando Norris passed him with all four wheels off the designated track.

“He [Perez] got overtaken by a car over the track limits,” Horner complained. "Sergio was super-frustrated by that.”

Perez led the race for an extended period but ultimately finished just off the podium in fourth, having retaken the position from Norris.

"It was a bit messy. It started at the start," Perez told Sky F1. "I immediately suffered from wheelspin, so I lost the position to Carlos [Sainz]. After the restart I recovered the position but also lost a place again to Lando.

"I looked in my mirrors at turn five and Lando was completely outside the track limits of the track. I didn't fight it because I thought he would give it back," he continued. "It took me a while to get past him and at that point I knew what my race was going to be like from then on."

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