Red Bull boss Christian Horner slams stewards' 'unbelievably harsh' decision after Max Verstappen's penalty at US Grand Prix

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has launched an impassioned plea for consistent decision-making and a more careful choice of stewards after Max Verstappen’s controversial demotion to fourth at Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

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.

The young Dutchman, 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 him drive briefly off the track at 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.

“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.

HAMILTON BLAMES ‘FLAWS’ IN RACETRACK DESIGNS

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.”

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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Lewis Hamilton storms to US Grand Prix win but who was our Driver of the Day?

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Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton edged closer to a fourth world championship on Sunday when he won the United States Grand Prix ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari.

Mercedes star Hamilton now has a 66-point lead over Vettel with just three races left.

Hamilton’s win also allowed Mercedes to retain the world constructors championship.

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DRIVER OF THE DAY – MAX VERSTAPPEN

The in-form Dutchman produced another scintillating drive to finish fourth after starting from P16.

The 20-year-old did finish third but was then demoted of his podium place for an illegal overtaking move on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap.

With his team mate Daniel Ricciardo retiring on lap 16, Verstappen’s finish added some gloss to a mixed weekend for Red Bull.

FASTEST LAP – SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Sebastian Vettel may have fallen short of his hopes of victory, however his lap of 1:37.766 on 51 proved to be the fastest of the day.

Valtteri Bottas’s 1:37.767 on lap 54 was the second-fastest, with Kevin Magnussen’s 1:37.893 on 51 third fastest as he attempted to push from the back of the grid.

Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – DANIEL RICCIARDO

It’s unfair to say the disappointment was down to Ricciardo’s driving, but more so seeing him retire when a podium place looked likely coming into the race.

Starting from P4, the Australian looked in emphatic form as he battled with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen early on before suffering engine failure after lap 16.

Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo.

ONE TO WATCH – STOFFEL VANDOORNE

It was another fantastic performance from Stoffel Vandoorne who finished 12th after starting from the back of the grid following a last-minute power unit change.

The Belgian has shown improvement over the course of his first F1 season, scoring points in Singapore and Malaysia to move ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings.

The 25-year-old will be hoping for more solid drives in 2018 with the new Renault engine.

Stoffel Vandoorne.

Stoffel Vandoorne.

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Lewis Hamilton inches closer to F1 title with US Grand Prix win

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Lewis Hamilton moved a step closer to his fourth world championship on Sunday when he won the United States Grand Prix, coming home ahead of his nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel.

The 32-year-old Briton, who started from a record 72nd pole position, recovered after losing his advantage at the start to regain the lead and steer his Mercedes to his ninth win this year, his fifth in Texas and the 62nd of his career.

Four-time champion German Vettel came home second for Ferrari and with three races remaining trails Hamilton by 66 points in the drivers’ title race.

If Hamilton wins, or finishes anywhere in the top five, in Mexico City next weekend, he will be champion.
Hamilton’s victory, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing fifth, confirmed the team as constructors champions for 2017 and for the fourth consecutive season.

Dutchman Max Verstappen crossed the line in third place after a controversial final corner passing move that saw his Red Bull car run off track as he swept beyond Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

The move was investigated immediately by the stewards who gave Verstappen, who had already gone to the podium ceremony waiting room, a five seconds penalty that cost him third and lifted Raikkonen back to third for Ferrari.

All this meant that Verstappen finished fourth ahead of Bottas, Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India and Spaniard Carlos Sainz who finished seventh on his debut with Renault following his move from Toro Rosso.

Brazilian Felipe Massa finished ninth for Williams and Russian Daniil Kvyat 10th in the second Toro Rosso.

When the lights went out, it was Vettel who had the best getaway and he held off Hamilton, who had been on pole, as he tried to respond into Turn One.

The Ferrari soon pulled clear to lead by 0.8 seconds and increased it to a second by the end of lap two with Bottas scrapping hard to resist a determined Daniel Ricciardo to retain third.

After a few laps reassessing his position, Hamilton picked up his pace and clocked fastest laps before regaining the lead on lap six with a move that appeared to catch Vettel by surprise.

He surged into position and then with the aid of his Drag Reduction System (DRS) outpaced him at the end of the back straight.

Further back in the field, Verstappen, who started 16th, rose to eighth and was carving through the traffic, soon reaching sixth place by lap ten.

Red Bull teamate Ricciardo suffered an engine failure which ended his race after 16 laps.

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