Drivers are understood to have spent more than an hour in Friday night’s briefing with FIA race director Michael Masi in a bid to clarify F1’s racing standards following a controversial incident involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. 

Verstappen was not investigated for running both himself and title rival Hamilton off track at Turn 4 as Hamilton attempted to overtake the Red Bull driver around the outside on lap 48. 

Mercedes’ subsequent request of review was rejected by the stewards’ on the eve of this weekend’s inaugural race in Qatar. 

Speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, Hamilton said F1’s racing rules are still “not clear.

“Every driver apart from Max was asking for clarity, but it wasn’t very clear,” Hamilton said when asked if the situation had been cleared up. 

“It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. It’s clearly not the white line anymore.

“We just ask for consistency. So if it’s the same as the last race for all of us in all scenarios then that’s fine.”

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Hamilton also said drivers were informed that different stewards could rule differently for similar incidents in the future. 

“They said it’s going to be different with different stewards,” he added. “It could be different with different stewards is what they said.”

Verstappen argued the exact details of the drivers’ briefing should remain private and not be shared with the media. 

“For me, the thing I don’t like, we discuss these kinds of things and they don’t need to go to the media,” he said. 

“You talk to the experts, and I think it’s more important that we discuss these things with the experts and not just throw things around on social media for nothing.

“I don’t know really what to comment on that, I prefer to talk to the people in charge and just discuss with them about future things in general, not only like an incident or whatever.”

And Verstappen disagreed with Hamilton about the apparent lack of clarity, insisting drivers know where they stand. 

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“Everyone is different and everyone has their own of racing and defending and overtaking,” he said. 

“And of course it’s very hard for the FIA as well to get everyone one the same line. Of course they decide but every driver has a different opinion.

“I think yesterday it was all about sharing their opinions and then the FIA explaining their process of talk behind it. So I think we came a long way, and it was a very long briefing. So I think it was, at the end, pretty clear.”

But Hamilton was not alone in his confusion, with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas admitting it would be “a bit weird” if the stewards did not take the same decision as they did in Brazil for another similar incident. 

“I don’t think we got a clear explanation of what we actually can do or not,” the Finn added. “Every overtake, every move is different, so I’m sure they try to do the best job, handing penalties or no penalties. 

“I don’t think it changes anything, we’ll just go for it and, at least, we know that what Lewis and Max ended up having in Brazil - that is OK. So that’s a good thing to know.” 

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s soon-to-be Mercedes teammate George Russell expressed some frustration after the discussion resulted in “no outcome”. 

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“I think unfortunately there was no outcome from yesterday, but I do appreciate that you need to treat every single case by case and circuit by circuit,” the Williams driver said. 

“For me, that was not even close to the line, it was well beyond the line what went on. If this was the last lap of the race, in my mind that would have been a slam-dunk penalty for Max.

“You can’t just out-brake yourself by 25 meters and do that. Max wasn’t punished purely because Lewis won the race, but the consequences shouldn’t be a factor in the punishment for the judgement of the incident.

“You have to judge the incident on a case-by-case basis. That’s what they’ve always told us, it’s not the consequence of that incident, it is the incident itself.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said he expects more “deep conversations” about racing rules to follow over the winter and believes F1 needs to adopt a “black and white” approach.

“It looks like over the winter there’s going to be some more deep conversations about how we go racing as a sport,” Sainz explained. 

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“We need to rethink the whole approach because the way it’s been working this year, it’s clear that the drivers don’t fully understand what is going to happen depending on what you do.

“I need to know if I can push the car on the outside wide and what am I going to get if I do so.

“Do you have a warning coming? Can you do it once? Do you have a possibility to do it a couple of times and then you get a warning, and then you can do it a fourth time? Are you going to get a penalty straight away like in Austria?

“This is what we don’t know as a sport or as drivers. We were seeking for answers, we more or less got some from Michael, but we know sometimes Michael and stewards are not always exactly the same.

“As a sport we need to make it as black and white as possible.” 

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo said the rules were “not crystal clear”, while two time world champion Fernando Alonso agreed with his compatriot Sainz. 

“When they are grey, sometimes you feel you benefit from them and sometimes you’ve been the idiot on track again,” the Alpine driver said. 

“So, it’s better when it’s black and white. And let’s see if we can improve all together. I think it’s not only FIA issue, it is the drivers, teams, FIA, we all need to work together to have better rules.”

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