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Formula 1

Red flag to a Bull as Horner responds to Verstappen penalty

The Red Bull driver was demoted from third to fourth after briefly leaving the track in Austin, a decision he later blamed on "one idiot steward."

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Red flag to a Bull as Horner responds to Verstappen penalty
Will Taylor-MedhurstAFP

Red Bull team principle Christian Horner has slammed the decision to demote Max Verstappen to fourth at Sunday's United States Grand Prix after the Dutch driver briefly went off the track.

Horner avoided revealing names, but pointedly made it clear that one of the stewards involved in the widely-criticised decision taken at the Circuit of the Americas was involved in a similar episode at last year's Mexican Grand Prix, which also involved Verstappen.

Verstappen, 20, who on Friday confirmed he had agreed a contract to stay at Red Bull until 2020, was given a five seconds penalty after a thrilling late passing move on Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari saw his tyre leave the track momentarily on the final corner of the last lap.

Horner said the penalty was "unbelievably harsh" and recalled that he had been told last year in Mexico that drivers would be given a right of reply in future if there was another similar incident.

He said that they were not allowed this in Austin and had no right of appeal.

Horner: "It's a shocking decision"

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Mark ThompsonAFP

"They said that they'd listen, look at all the facts, 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," he said. "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 defended Verstappen for his post-race rant about the stewards in which he blamed one "idiot steward" and claimed such mistakes would kill the sport.

"He has the right to express himself and in any sport emotions run high - that's what sport is about," said Horner. "If he'd said he was happy with that decision I'd be amazed."

Horner added: "Consistency of stewarding depends on the stewards you get on the day.... 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.

"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."

The stewards at Austin were Radovan Novak of the Czech Republic, Finn Mika Salo and Australian Garry Connelly, who was involved also when Verstappen was demoted from third to fourth in Mexico last year.

Verstappen: "The sport makes no sense. They kill the race like that."

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Verstappen did not mention names when he 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."

Hamilton: "This is the problem with today's circuits"

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Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes blamed the design of modern circuits for the problems and the row.

"He's off-track," said Hamilton. "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 it was grass he wouldn't have gone there.

"I just don't know why there's these flaws on these circuits. 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 it..."


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