FIA defends US GP penalty decision, Max Verstappen apologises for 'idot' remark
Once again, the FIA's penalty system was put in question after the US Grand Prix, when the stewards penalised Max Verstappen for track limits abuse, which cost him a podium position.
The Dutch driver had claimed that most of the drivers were going wide, not only in the corner where his move was adjudged illegal, but also several other places on the track.
Post-race, Verstappen didn't name the steward but called him an 'idiot' for penalising him time and again - suggesting the steward having a personal grudge against him.
However, Charlie Whiting called for a special meet at the Mexican Grand Prix to convey the media on why the decision was taken, defending the steward in question, Garry Connelly.
"The accusations of inconsistently are pretty much without foundation. The only time a driver gained a clear advantage he was penalised," said Whiting on the decision. "The point is the stewards felt he had gained an advantage, had shortened the track, clearly he was off the track, and he passed another car.
"There was no other incident at that part of the track. I can say, hand on heart, there was complete consistency there. We can come up with 20 or so examples of drivers leaving the track but we examined them and determined that no advantage had been gained. There is consistency.
"Only Max cut a corner and if you look at previous examples of other drivers cutting a corner, [Jolyon] Palmer was penalised in Monza and [Sergio] Perez was penalised at Spa for doing exactly the same thing. As far as l can see, there is complete consistency," Whiting added speaking to Sky Sports.
Whiting believes it is a mere co-incidence that Connelly is the steward when Verstappen is penalised and that it wasn't just his decision, but an unanimous call between former F1 driver Mika Salo, Radovan Novak and Dennis Dean - who were the stewards in Austin.
Whiting also hoped that Verstappen will apologise for the remarks made against the steward. In the Mexico's press conference, Verstappen made it clear that he still thinks the penalty was uncalled for, however, he understands the 'idiot' comment wasn't right.
"I think after a race the emotions run high, especially you have been taken off a podium, which I think I deserved, because I think the punishment was not correct, because everybody was running off the track in Turn 19, 8 and 9.
"Even in Turn 6 when you were behind someone you were cutting the inside, a lot of cars were doing it. And then also the fans, I think they loved it. It was a great move and then they tell you that you are gaining an advantage while overtaking someone.
"Well, if I was really gaining an advantage I would do it every single lap, which you are not, so I don’t think it’s gaining an advantage. Like I said, a lot of other people did it as well, they were cutting the inside of the corners, and then I’m the only getting penalised, is of course, I think, not correct.
"And then I think it’s quite normal that I get angry. Of course I could have used a few different words but at the end of the day I still think the decision is not correct," he said, adding that if he wanted to offend someone, he would have taken names rather than keeping it ambiguous.
Later in the day, the Dutchman took to Instagram to clarify his statements and 'once again' apologise for his comments, which may have offended some people. "Further to what I said during the FIA press conference earlier today, I would once again apologise for the language that I used following the US Grand Prix.
"My comments were made in the heat of the moment, I know that the words I used were inappropriate and they were not directed at any one person. I certainly did not mean to cause any offence and I hope we can move on and enjoy this race weekend," he wrote.
The decision by the FIA has split the fans and experts alike, with many coming in favour of Verstappen. It once again throws light on the age-old debate of track limits, which has increased since most circuits have started to go for asphalt with wide run-off areas, in place of the traditional gravel trap.