Verstappen rued losing 'super powerful' track position during Bahrain GP

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Max Verstappen admits losing "super powerful" track position was crucial in his loss to Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Starting from pole, the Dutchman led the race until after his first pitstop, as Red Bull opted not to respond to Mercedes stopping early with the world champion.

That left Verstappen playing catch up for the rest of the race, and though he was able to close in on Hamilton, Max admits the age-old issue of turbulent air meant he couldn't easily attack the Mercedes despite his pace advantage.

“There were a few things going on throughout the whole race,” he told Sky Sports.

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“They [Mercedes] undercut us so we were just sticking to our strategy, which I think was working fine, but the problem is these cars are so hard to pass.

“Once you have that track position it showed again today that it’s just super powerful.

“As soon as I got close I had that one shot because Lewis got held up a bit with a backmarker, and I went outside of the track.

“I of course then gave the position back, tried again, but my tyres were not in a good state anymore to really put the pressure on, so that was a shame.”

The big controversy of the battle was the issue of track limits, with Hamilton running wide at Turn 4 29 times without any repercussion, while Max would have been given a five-second penalty, it was later confirmed, had he stayed ahead after his overtake.

“What was mentioned and discussed with the drivers at the drivers meeting is that if an overtake takes place with a car off-track, and gains a lasting advantage, I will go on the radio and suggest to the team that they immediately relinquish that position,” FIA race director Michael Masi explained.

“Red Bull was actually given an instruction immediately by myself. I suggested that they relinquish that position as listed in the sporting regulations, which they did.

“It wasn’t for exceeding the track limits [as Hamilton was doing previously]. It was for gaining a lasting advantage by overtaking another car off the race-track.”

Still, Hamilton admits the fact Verstappen was able to briefly overtake him is a warning he and Mercedes need to up their game going forward.

"We were fortunate today with Max going wide in Turn 4 but that won't happen again I'm pretty sure," he said.

"So, we've got to do better, we've got to be smarter in how we navigate through our weekends with the fact that we don't have the fastest car at the moment.

"But that's all good for me, I don't mind having to pull out extra in order to make the difference."