AUSTIN -- Red Bull boss Christian Horner has slammed the FIA's decision to strip Max Verstappen of a U.S. Grand Prix podium, calling it "unbelievably harsh" and "bad judgement".
Verstappen looked to have stolen third position from Kimi Raikkonen -- who was struggling to save enough fuel to finish -- on the final lap in Austin, catching the Finn and overtaking three corners from the finish line with a thrilling pass. However, Verstappen put all four wheels off the circuit while executing the move, prompting the FIA to hand him a five-second penalty.
That meant he swapped positions with Raikkonen after the chequered flag, something he was told as he waited to take his place on the podium, leading to an awkward moment where the 20-year-old had to leave the cool-down room in place of the Finn. Horner was livid with the decision after the race.
"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'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 decision prompted fury from the Verstappen camp. Max's father Jos made his feelings clear immediately after the race with a series of tweets, one of which referenced an old F1 joke referring to the initias of motorsport's governing body, the FIA.
This is bulshitt. Sorry. This sucks— Jos Verstappen (@MaVic009) October 22, 2017
Shame on you FIA— Jos Verstappen (@MaVic009) October 22, 2017
Speaking after the race, Raikkonen said the move had caught him by surprise as he was focusing on his fuel levels.
"I was quite surprised [to see him there]," Raikkonen said. "I saw him in the mirror and I tried to slow down the whole thing before the previous corner to save enough fuel, to be honest. I thought I had enough covered on that corner and I had listed, for the reasons I said.
"I only saw a bit of him in the mirror so I was a bit surprised. I was pretty pissed off he got passed me but happily surprised that I got to go on the podium. But I haven't seen it, I don't really know where he went."