Max Verstappen loses podium for exceeding track limits – was he robbed?
Max got the boot from the cool-down room. It was a bit awkward, too.
Max Verstappen drove a brilliant U.S. Grand Prix, climbing from 16th on the grid to fight for a spot on the podium in the closing stages.
A bold last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen seemed to have secured him a fantastic result. He used all the circuit and more to overhaul the Finn, but when he took the chequered flag he looked to have done enough.
In fact, Max made it all the way to the cool-down room after the race, chatting over his meteoric rise to the top-three with Sebastian Vettel.
Then, Kimi arrived.
Unknown to the Dutchman, he had been placed under investigation for his move. The stewards moved to slap him with a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, enough to relegate him to P4 and bump Kimi back on to the podium.
Max was still beaming when Kimi shuffled in, and had to be politely informed that he had a penalty. He actually took it better than we might have expected, quickly leaving without punching a single piece of furniture. Speaking on TV afterwards he singled out – but would not name – one steward who he believes is making calls against him. All told, the 20-year-old was quite clam.
His dad Jos was less chill on social media, however, posting a series of angry tweets.
Christian Horner chose his words more carefully, but was just as frustrated as Jos.
"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,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky Sports F1.
“[Max] 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."
And no less a star than Mario Andretti also came out on Max's side...
Clearly it was a close call – but was it the right one?