Hamilton: If that was grass Max wouldn't be off

Max Verstappen (Getty)
Max Verstappen (Getty)

Cape Town - Lewis Hamilton has weighed in on the Max Verstappen penalty debate, saying it wouldn't have been an issue if there had been a proper deterrent, such as grass, surrounding the track.

Verstappen was penalised for passing Kimi Raikkonen with all four wheels off the track on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix.

The decision cost the Red Bull racer third place, frustrating both the driver and his team.

But while Red Bull are angry at the stewards, Hamilton says the real issue is the design of today's Formula 1 tracks.

"He's off-track," the Mercedes driver told Sky F1. "This is the problem with today's circuits. 

"I don't know who made the decision but there's all these run-off areas. Why is that not grass? If that was grass he wouldn't have gone there.

"I just don't know why there's these flaws on these circuits. Particularly the new generation of driver comes in and is very happy to exploit these things. 

"Clearly he's way off the line. You can't go there.

"It is very difficult and when we're in drivers' briefings, we're always discussing and we say, 'here you can gain an advantage'.

"There's always an argument and Charlie [Whiting, FIA race director] says, 'I don't think you can gain an advantage there' and we say, 'yes, we can get on the power 10 metres earlier and just go wide'.

"It's a really fine line and very hard. I think the FIA do a good job but I think they can't build new tracks with these run-off areas."

Speaking with the Sky team of Martin Brundle and Damon Hill, he added: "I loved it in your guys' day when there was grass.

"You should pay some sort of price where you have to come off the gas and you take a bit of a bumpy ride, whether it's onto stones or whatever. You don't have that now."

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