Verstappen: ‘Hard’ to avoid track limits penalty amid Norris pressure

© XPB 

Max Verstappen says he had to devote all his focus to avoiding a track limits transgression in the closing stages of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix while under massive pressure from pursuer Lando Norris.

Verstappen had already been warned on three occasions, earlier in the race during his opening stint on the medium tyre, about running beyond the boundaries of the track.

This put the Red Bull driver on thin ice, as any further transgressions would incur a five-second time penalty, potentially jeopardizing his race lead.

But the threat became even more real as Norris started reeling him in the final 15 laps of the race.

With 13 laps remaining and Norris closing the gap to within five seconds, Verstappen's race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, issued a crucial warning.

“The main thing to focus on now Max is as the gap is less than five seconds we really can’t afford any track limits [violations] so focus on that,” Lambiase said.

Verstappen acknowledged the message and adjusted his driving accordingly, focusing on maintaining clean laps while still defending his position.

“They updated me, of course, with the track limits, to just be a bit more careful from that point onwards,” he commented after the race.

“The problem was in the beginning I was understeering a lot on the medium and that was pushing me a bit off sometimes if I missed the apex.”

Verstappen’s switch to the hard tyre made it somewhat easier for the championship leader to keep his car within Imola’s track limits.

But when Norris started breathing down his neck, the Red Bull charger was forced once again to put himself on the ragged edge.

“On the hard tyres [I was] just leaving a bit more margin,” he explained.

“Of course, the last few laps when Lando was catching me it was a bit harder because I had to naturally really use the track as much as I could.

“But we stayed within the lines, but definitely, it does require then a bit more focus, of course. Every exit, you have to be really sure what you’re doing.”

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