F1 managing director Ross Brawn said it would have left a “nasty taste” if Max Verstappen had have won the Bahrain GP with a time penalty.
Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton kicked-off the 2021 season in style with an epic battle for victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Hamilton ultimately emerging as the victor.
It was so nearly a different story though as Verstappen pulled a move on Hamilton at Turn 4 for the lead, only for him to return it to the Briton at the request of race control after breaching track limits.
At the time Verstappen said over team radio “why didn’t you let me go? I could have easily got the five seconds. I prefer to lose like that than to be second like this.”
But Brawn is glad that Red Bull and Verstappen did not go down this route, which would have left a “nasty taste”.
“What is really encouraging for the season ahead is that on first measure, there is nothing between Mercedes and Red Bull, and Hamilton and Verstappen,” he wrote in his Bahrain Grand Prix debrief.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix was all about strategy and having the track position advantage – and Mercedes came out on top this time with their more aggressive approach.
“Both Verstappen and Hamilton were worthy winners, but ultimately, it was Hamilton who drove the better race. Verstappen got a bit ragged at the end.
“But make no mistake, this was a fantastic race, the kind where the win was decided on the very finest of margins.
“I think Red Bull made the right call to tell Verstappen to give the position back to Hamilton, after he ran wide on passing the defending champion.
“If Verstappen had pulled out a sufficient gap after an infringement and won the race, that would have left a nasty taste. We don’t want to see races won in that manner.”
After the race Verstappen criticised the current generation of cars, saying they make track position “too powerful“.
And Brawn says this is an issue that the new regulations for 2022 aim to address.
“The rule changes over the winter appear to have closed the field up. With teams set to focus fairly soon on next year’s car, it may be that nobody pulls away to any degree and we have an epic season in front of us,” he continued.
“When Verstappen caught Hamilton, he couldn’t stay behind and stay in the sweet spot for long enough to launch attack after attack because the tyres were overheating. That’s what we are trying to cure with the 2022 regulations, so the future is bright.”