Tougher stewarding has drivers 'tucking in their elbows', says Masi

21/07/2021
NEWS STORY

Despite the ongoing row over last Sunday's first lap clash involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Michael Masi insists that tougher stewarding this year is causing drivers to 'tuck in their elbows' more.

Though most see it as a racing incident, others appear to view the clash much like fans watching a football match, their opinion ultimately influenced by which of the two teams they support.

As Helmut Marko threatens legal action over what he perceives as the Silverstone stewards failure to properly investigate the clash - and mete out an appropriate punishment - the FIA's race director, Michael Masi defends them insisting that a crackdown this year has led to drivers 'tucking in their elbows' in the opening moments of a race and thereby causing fewer such incidents.

The weekend saw two first lap incidents however, the first in the Sprint, when George Russell was handed a 3-place grid penalty following his clash with Carlos Sainz, and, of course, Sunday's high-profile coming together.

"There is a clear point that the first lap is obviously treated in a much lighter way under the 'let them race' principles than the rest of the race," Masi is quoted as saying by numerous media outlets, "and letting drivers find their own balance.

"But the drivers have clearly said, as have the teams from the end of last year, that they felt their elbows were out a bit too far last year, and they needed to be tucked back in a little bit.

"You need to look at it as what's happening on that first lap," he explained. "It could be Turn 1, it could be Turn 6, depending on the nature of the circuit."

Referring specifically to last Sunday, he said: There were two cars clearly involved in the incident and all the drivers from the start of this year said that if there's two cars involved, that if there is someone that is predominantly to blame, predominantly or wholly, then that should be looked at a bit closer, even on the first lap.

"I think having looked at it all, their view was that he was predominantly to blame for that.

"The big part was similar to what happened with Charles later on," he added, referring to the move late in the race when Hamilton overhauled the Ferrari driver to take the lead, "that he could have, say, tucked in closer to the apex. And that was where they found that, I think the wording was quite clear as per the regulations, that he was predominantly to blame.

"He wasn't seen as wholly to blame for it, but seen as predominantly to blame, that he could have tucked in further."

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Published: 21/07/2021
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