The United States Grand Prix stewards “had no choice” but to penalise Max Verstappen for his final lap overtake on Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, according to former Formula One drivers Perry McCarthy and David Brabham. Max Verstappen thought he had claimed the final podium position after passing Kimi Raikkonen down the inside of Turn 16.
However, the stewards deemed the Dutchman had “gained a lasting advantage” by having all four wheels off the track and handed him a five-second time penalty post-race, leaving him to be unceremoniously ejected from the cool down room. Max Verstappen of course did not agree with the decision, but former F1 drivers Perry McCarthy and David Brabham felt the 20-year-old had to be punished given the “shortcut” he took:
“As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think they had any choice but to penalise Max for it.” – Perry McCarthy said, as reported by Sky Sports – “It’s such a difficult one. The racer inside me says ‘No, great move, intuitive, spontaneous, get it at all costs, go, go, go’ and I love that about Max. The only thing was he cut off a lot of the circuit there. Kimi was there ready to turn in and Max has just gone ‘now, now, now’ which is fantastic but he was completely off the track.”
David Brabham added: “If I had someone behind me and we were going for a podium and they did that, I would be pretty upset that he shortcutted to gain a position. If you go through a chicane and overshoot it and you pass somebody, you have to let them back through. Everyone got such a high from it and we got dragged down by these rules and regulations. If you look at the inside of that corner, there is a huge amount of space there for any car to go across. I’m asking ‘why is that not grass?’ Why is it there so someone can do that and cause these problems?”. Despite regular calls for consistency in decisions, Brabham believes that will never come:
“It’s very much a grey area. Everyone is screaming there’s no consistency, but you’re never going to have consistency. I think we all have to accept that. It’s human nature, nothing is ever consistent and your mood changes and you’ll see things differently. Mika Salo [one of the stewards in Austin] is not emotionally attached to the race, he’s looking at the rules and regulations so has a different mindset. His mood is very different to Christian Horner who can’t believe what’s just happened. They’re two different perspectives.” – the Australian professional racing driver concluded.