Horner slams "unbelievably harsh" Verstappen penalty

Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner has hit out at the FIA stewards' "unbelievably harsh" decision to penalise Max Verstappen and strip him of his United States Grand Prix podium.

Horner slams "unbelievably harsh" Verstappen penalty

Verstappen had started the COTA race from 16th after incurring engine change grid penalties, but a charging drive put him in contention for a remarkable podium finish.

On fresher and faster tyres, he was all over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for third on the final lap of the race, clearing the Finn with a late dive down the inside of Turn 17 and arriving at the chequered flag four seconds ahead.

However, just as the Dutchman was preparing to step onto the podium, he was informed he had picked up a five-second penalty for having overtaken Raikkonen outside of track limits – which dropped him to fourth place in the classification.

The statement from the FIA on the penalty read: "The stewards examined video evidence and concluded that car 33 [Verstappen] did leave the track, with all four wheels clearly off the track by at least half a metre, and overtook car 7 [Raikkonen] in doing so.

"The driver did gain a lasting advantage."

Horner, however, felt the decision to penalise Verstappen was inconsistent as numerous other track limits infringements at COTA had gone unpunished.

"There's been cars going off track all day today and no action at all, so I think it would be unbelievably harsh to give Max a penalty," Horner told Sky Sports.

It was the second time Verstappen has been denied a podium by a post-race stewards' decision, as he lost a third-place finish at Mexico last year in similar circumstances.

Horner continued: "It's wrong. We'll have a look at it, but for me it was fair, hard racing. I think that's a bad judgement by the stewards to have made that call.

"He did it the hard way. We've seen cars off track all day today, all weekend, so to penalise him at this stage, that's not right."

The penalty has also drawn the ire of Verstappen's father Jos, himself a former grand prix driver.

Verstappen Sr. took to social media to express his disappointment with the penalty, tweeting, among other things, "This is bullshit. Sorry. This sucks." and "Shame on you FIA".

 
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