Before I get into the Verstappen business, let me just say that I thought it was another great race delivered by the Circuit of the Americas. The circuit is one of the best modern designs and seems to constantly deliver entertainment. Were the shenanigans pre-race and post-race a little over the top? Sure, but in moderation (a.k.a one race per year) I actually quite enjoyed the hype.
Now onto the incident that's on the tip of everyone's tongues. Every member of the F1 community has some kind of opinion towards the decision and absolutely everyone is entitled to that, but for me personally the correct decision was applied. To clarify, when I say the 'decision', I'm referencing the 5 second penalty and not the one penalty point that was given out. The penalty point was absurd and I can't figure out how they came to that conclusion.
At the end of the day, Verstappen left the circuit to complete an overtake. Is that looking at it too simplistically? I don't think it is. All four wheels left the circuit and he gained a position, a position he wouldn't have taken if he had remained on the circuit. Simply put, gaining an unfair advantage shouldn't go unpunished.
A lot of people's arguments then head towards the realms of 'consistency'. If Verstappen receives a penalty for gaining an unfair advantage, then shouldn't others be looked at? E.g. Vettel going wide at Turn 1 after getting past Hamilton. This is a legitimate debate and something that needs looking into. The application of penalties needs to be fair, and clearer guidelines as to what is and what isn't a penalty need to be established. In my view, this doesn't mean that Verstappen didn't deserve a penalty, it just means that other incidents need to be viewed equally.
Arguments that I don't understand so much are ones that incorporate emotion and irrelevant factors. There are some who think that fans were robbed of a memorable podium that would've capped off a stunning drive. To me, that makes no sense. Verstappen's performance was incredible and he fully deserved driver of the day, even before he made the pass on Raikkonen, but it should in no way be factored into the decision of whether he receives a penalty or not. It doesn't matter whether it was a move for a dramatic podium or a move for P12 with nothing riding on it. If a move is illegal, it's illegal! The emotion of the moment has nothing to do with it.
One thing that does frustrate me slightly is how Verstappen and Red Bull are completely unable to challenge the FIA's ruling. Whilst I believe the stewards made the correct decision, teams should have the ability to challenge decisions when they are made in such a short space of time. There was no investigation like 99% of other incidents and the time taken to come to a conclusion was minimal. Either the stewards should have taken longer or a process where challenging can happen needs to exist.
Apologies for this small plug, but Late Braking LIVE returns tonight at 7PM on the F1 Live chat channel. No doubt the Verstappen incident will be front and centre of tonight's debate but there are many talking points other than that one. We encourage you to get your questions in and discuss your opinions with other members of the F1 community!