People throughout Formula One paddock have criticized the FIA after Max Verstappen, for the second time in the last year, was stripped of a podium finish due to a controversial post-race penalty.
Verstappen finished Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in third place. But just moments before walking out onto the podium, he was hit with a five-second penalty for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen. The two drivers had been battling for most of the final lap at Circuit of the Americas, with Verstappen ultimately squeezing by Raikkonen on the inside of the triple-apex sequence of turns 16, 17 and 18.
The stewards penalized the 20-year-old racer because all four of his wheels crossed the white line at Turn 17, though Verstappen noted that drivers had been exceeding track limits throughout the entire race.
“Everyone was loving it — it was a great show,” Verstappen said, via Formula1.com. “Like I said, be consistent. If it’s not allowed, then I understand and I finish fourth. But don?t say to everyone else you can run off the track wherever you like, because they never gave any penalties, and then I do it and they give me a penalty.”
The situation was all too familiar for Verstappen, who similarly was hit with a penalty while waiting to head onto the podium after the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.
“After Mexico, they said they wouldn’t make that hasty decision again,” Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner said. “They said they’d look at all the facts, listen to the drivers and then make a decision. And what’s happened? They’ve made an instant decision, and I think it’s a shocking decision. They’ve robbed the fans of the podium that should have been today.”
Although Horner and Max’s father, Jos Verstappen, arguably have been the most vocal in their criticism of the stewards’ decision, members of the Red Bull camp aren’t the only ones who have taken issue with the sanction.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, for example, told Autosport that the decision was “the worst I’ve ever seen.” What’s more, on Twitter, world champions Nico Rosberg and Mario Andretti both argued that Verstappen had no choice but to cut the corner, as Raikkonen forced him off track.