Max Verstappen escalates US GP row and blasts 'one idiot steward'
"It's just one idiot steward who always makes the decisions up there against me." Vote: Did Verstappen deserve penalty?
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 24/10/17 11:30am
A furious Max Verstappen has blasted the "one idiot steward" who penalised him for overtaking Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap of the United States GP.
In a controversial twist to a storming race, Verstappen was adjudged to have passed Raikkonen after 'gaining an advantage' by having all four wheels off the track at Turn 16, and so was cruelly ejected from the cool-down room just as he was about to celebrate an unlikely podium for Red Bull.
The stewards in Austin were Radovan Novak, Mika Salo and Garry Connelly - the last of whom was also adjudicating when Verstappen was demoted from third to fourth at last year's Mexican GP.
And Verstappen, who was handed a five-second penalty, said: "It's a shame we miss out on the podium as they take it away again but It's just one idiot steward who always makes the decisions up there against me.
"I get a five-second penalty and a penalty point - but for what? At the end of the day, everybody is running wide.
"The crowd is loving it and then you do something like that on world TV. The way they did it is unbelievable. The sport makes no sense. They kill the race like that."
It wasn't just the Dutchman who was irate, with father Jos launching a social media tirade after the bitter ending, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner insisted the verdict was "unbelievably harsh".
Horner says he was told by the stewards back in Mexico that they would give the driver a right of reply if there was another late incident - but Red Bull were not even able to appeal Verstappen's penalty at the Circuit of the Americas.
"They said they wouldn't make that hasty decision again," Horner explained to Sky F1. "They said that they'd listen, they'd look at all the facts, they'd listen to the drivers and then make a decision.
"What's happened? They've made an instant decision and I think it's a shocking decision.
"They didn't even listen to Max's argument. In other instances, they would have had the drivers in and listened to both sides. Maybe they would have come to the same conclusion, but at least give them the right of reply."
Horner also said Verstappen did not need to be rebuked for his post-race outbursts towards the stewards.
"He has the right to express himself and in any sport emotions run high - that's what sport is," he added. "If he'd had said he was happy with that decision I'd be amazed."
Asked specifically if F1's stewards were up to the job, Horner replied: "It's a question that has been raised before. Consistency of stewarding depends on the stewards you get on the day."
Reigning F1 world champion Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, also joined the debate.
Was the circuit the problem?
Red Bull's main gripe with the stewards' decision appears to be the lack of "consistency" shown, with drivers frequently running wide at Turns 9 and 19 during the race and qualifying.
"F1 is still immature in this country, it's a big race and with the lack of consistency in the decisions I should think all the viewers and the fans watching didn't understand," Horner said.
"Even Kimi Raikkonen didn't understand why he was on the podium and not Max.
"Where do you gain an advantage and not gain an advantage? The race director was quite clear he had no issues with track limits, I understand it was discussed earlier in the weekend."
And race winner Lewis Hamilton, while of the belief that Verstappen deserved his US GP penalty, said the design of modern tracks makes this sort of move possible.
"He's off-track," the championship leader 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."
And Hamilton added to Sky F1's Martin Brundle and Damon Hill: "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."
The stewards' decision
Fact: Car 33 left the track in turn 17, gaining a lasting advantage
Decision: Five-second time penalty (1 penalty point awarded)
Reason: The Stewards examined video evidence and concluded that car 33 did leave the track, with all four wheels clearly off the track by at least half a metre, and overtook car 7 in doing so. The driver did gain a lasting advantage.
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