Why was Verstappen not penalised for grid box infringement?

Max Verstappen's positioning at the second red flag restart at the Australian GP was called into question

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As if there wasn’t enough drama in a chaotic Australian Grand Prix. From Lap 1 there was action aplenty at the Albert Park layout, and that carried on beyond the chequered flag as eagle-eyed fans in attendance spotted race winner Max Verstappen pushing the limits on the second red flag restart.

The Dutchman was cruising to a serene victory in Melbourne until Kevin Magnussen crashed with four laps to go, setting up a two-lap shootout from a standing start with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso behind.

But as he lined up, fans noticed he appeared to be sitting beyond his grid box which, if proven, would have resulted in a five-second penalty that would have cost him the win and likely have dropped him out of the points completely.

Specifically, Verstappen came to a halt before rolling forward another again right to the front of his box as those behind him got into position.

The footage looked dubious but the championship leader was cleared of any wrongdoing, with stewards concluding he hadn’t gone past the contact patch and was therefore not in breach of any rules.

When asked about the incident, Verstappen said: “To be honest with you 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 forward.

“And yeah, it was really on the limit. But on the limit is on the limit. It’s not over the limit.”

What do the rules say?

Both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon have been penalised for grid box infringements this season, but the Verstappen incident was different in nature.

Such a scenario is covered in Article 48 section c) of the Sporting Regulations that defines the rules on where drivers must line up.

It states a penalty will be imposed if a driver has “the contact patch of its front tyres outside of the lines [front and sides] at the time of the start signal.”

So, where Ocon and Alonso were conclusively out of kilter side-to-side, Verstappen remained (just) within the front of his grid box.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the next race of the 2023 Formula 1 season on April 30. Keep up to date with all the latest F1 news on Total Motorsport.

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