Max Verstappen concedes he was on the limit in his grid box when he lined up for the final restart at the Australian GP but, as he put it, “on the limit is on the limit”.
On what was already a chaotic day in Melbourne, social media lit up after the third and final restart when fans questioned whether Verstappen was out of position in his grid box.
This year the regulation governing starting positions was amended to state that a driver has to have all four wheels within the front and sides of their grid position marker. If they don’t, that’s a five-second penalty of which there have already been two issued this season.
Verstappen, though, didn’t become number three as photographs seeming to show he was outside the limits were nothing but a trick of the camera angle, with the driver safe by millimetres.
He admits he was on the limit, but being on the limit is not being outside of it.
“To be honest with you,” he said after winning Sunday’s race, “I think I braked a bit late and then I lost my reference a bit but then I looked and I was like I still have a little bit more space.
“I actually moved a bit forwards and yeah, it was really on the limit.
“But on the limit is on the limit, it’s not over the limit.
“The sun was also quite difficult at the end, the visibility especially into Turn 1, Turn 3 was quite tough.”
Verstappen had spoken about this year’s spate of grid box penalties after Fernando Alonso’s Saudi Arabian five-second punishment following on from Esteban Ocon’s in Bahrain.
He said at the time that while it is “painful when it happens”, he feels it is “a bit the same with the white line and with track limits.
“Sometimes you argue did you gain anything in going wide or not, going outside of it. I think at one point we do need a rule. It looks really silly if people start to take advantage of going really left and right.”
In response to the drivers’ concerns the FIA widened the pit boxes at the Australian Grand Prix, making them 20cm wider while also painting a central marker to help guide the drivers. None of them incurred penalties in the race despite multiple standing starts.