Lewis Hamilton says modern circuit designs are the main problem which cause incidents like Max Verstappen’s controversial post-race penalty at the United States Grand Prix.

Verstappen appeared to have all four wheels of his Red Bull car off the track as he overtook Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap of the US race to initially claim third place before being hit with a five-second time penalty to be demoted to fourth place.

While the penalty enraged Red Bull who demanded consistency from race stewards after a number of drivers were seen going off track without getting penalised during the race weekend, Hamilton agrees Verstappen was off the track and at threat of a penalty but blamed the tarmac run-off areas at the Circuit of the Americas for enabling the Dutch driver to take the risk.

“This is the problem with today’s circuits. I don’t know who made the decision, but there are all these damn run-off areas,” Hamilton said on Sky F1. “Why is that not grass? No one usually goes there. But if that was grass, he wouldn’t have gone there.

“I don’t know why they made all this on the circuit. Particularly like the new generation of drivers coming in and very happy to exploit those things. Clearly he’s way off the line, he can’t go there.”

Hamilton is certain the issue will arise at future F1 drivers' briefings as it has done in the past but rather than point the finger at the organisers the Mercedes driver has edged the blame on to the circuits.

“During drivers’ briefings we always discuss it. Here you can take an advantage, and there’s an argument and Charlie [Whiting, FIA race director] would say ‘You don’t gain an advantage here’ and you can keep the power earlier and go wide,” he said. “It’s strange here because exit of turn nine you used to be not able to go wide, and now you can just go off track. Last corner you can go over the big kerb.

“There is a really fine line. I think the FIA are doing a good job. But when it comes to new tracks, they can’t build all these run-off areas.”


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The racing track then solid white lines to highlight the edge of the track then either grass or gravel or a combination of both. No extra bits of curbing or different coloured tarmac and none of that bloody awful artificial grass nonsence. Job done and no need to apply time penalties or the like as the driver/rider will already be penalised for his mistake in real time.

Hamilton is right. Had that area been grass inside the curb, the pass would have never been possible. Had there been sausage curbs like at the Rd Bull Ring, the pass would have ended with a crash. This means that it is necessary for stweards to enforce the 4 wheels off rule at a corner apex, so when driver use the favorable track configuration to cut a corner to make a pass (cheat), they are penalized. COTA has a few areas needing improvement in this regard for F1, as do other tracks. We could see a lot less controversy if tracks were configrured to close the door on cheating maneauvers like this one.

Really, we're blaming the tracks now? So, when it was only gravel and (gasp!) walls to stop cars when they went helplessly off-track, the circuit owners were pressured to pave the run-off when possible and allow drivers to have minimal repercussions for driving beyond their limit. In the name of safety. Now, with that done, we have arguably safer tracks, but drivers abusing the painted track limits (as they will do when there is time to be had). But we need to quit giving their voices credence when they begin to blame the tracks for causing them to exceed track limits.

It's like blaming a store for placing snacks near the front door when someone walks out with a 'free' candy bar.

Absolute drivel from over paid  prima donas. This is not rocket science they all know the rules and all they have to do is stick to them. I can be tempted to ignore speed limits occasionally but if I am caught its no good bleating that the road was wide and straight and there was no one else about. If they can't control themselves all the cirtcuits have to do is remove the run off areas and have the track limits defined by Armco or deep gravel traps so that they have to keep to the track

It's a good point and he's absolutely right. However, like proper engines and soon open cockpits, these concepts are a thing of the past. OH&S demands massive run off areas so we're probably stuck with it.

Just remember that motorcycles also use the track. As somebody who has done track days at COTA, I'd rather see a concrete run off area than grass anyday, although I could maybe see doing the inside of corners, but not the outside

Difficult one this, but Hamilton is right. As drivers the rules are clear & common sense - stay on the black stuff, on older circuits putting a foot off cost time or worse. Funny how Horner whines about inconsistency when it suits him. Kimi was clearly baulked by the move meaning Max should have given the position back because he gained unfair advantage, in Karting he could get away with such a move, Max is fast but until he learns risk assessment/control he will never be great.

He's right. Those of you who can't admit to that are blinded by your opinion on him

its a bit ironic lulu blaming the track.  after all, he only got pole due to running  well off the track himself!

Oh such tragic irony. Most, if not all of the grid ran off track in qually, definitely the only reason then. Muppet.