But instead of a string of penalties, came Whiting’s light-touch — but firm intervention.
The matter was resolved in his pre-race notes ahead of the United States Grand Prix, which set outing no uncertain terms what was and was not illegal.
The notes said “no car may be driven in a manner which could be potentially dangerous to other drivers…furthermore, Article 27.8 prohibits any manoeuvre liable to hinder other drivers, such as any abnormal change of direction. With this in mind, and with the exception of any move permitted by Article 27.6, any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards.”
Masi might insist that the rules are clear, but several drivers on the ’21 grid insist they are not
Contrast that with the situation after Verstappen’s off-track defence of Hamilton in Brazil that resulted in no action. The sheer volume of penalties imposed this year has led to an interpretation that if a penalty is not applied then the behaviour must be legal.
That’s exactly what Mercedes boss Toto Wolff concluded. “What it says is you can just launch yourself into a corner and drag the other car out of line,” he said after a review of the stewards’ decision was rejected.
Where penalties were imposed by Whiting, he was clear in his explanation. Verstappen did get a time penalty at the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix when he blocked Räikkönen illegally.
“It was quite clearly a penalty because Max went off the track and rejoined the track unsafely,” Whiting assessed after the Suzuka incident.