Max Verstappen claimed Formula One’s stewards were killing the sport after he was demoted from a podium finish in Sunday’s US Grand Prix for driving off the track to pass Kimi Raikkonen.
The 20-year-old Dutchman, who on Friday announced he had signed a new contract to stay with Red Bull until 2020, was livid as he branded one steward an “idiot”.
His Red Bull team chief Christian Horner was also angry and pointed out that Verstappen’s bold final corner overtake on the last lap of the race was a thrilling example of the best of F1 racing, but that the decision would leave the American audience baffled.
Verstappen, the hottest young driver in the pit lane, had roared from 16th on the grid to cross the line in third at the Circuit of the Americas with his dramatic last-gasp pass of Raikkonen, the 38-year-old Ferrari driver from Finland.
But the race stewards ruled he had gained an unfair advantage by cutting off the track at the inside of Turn 17.
He was given a five-second penalty, which demoted him to fourth — after he had joined victorious Briton Lewis Hamilton and second-placed German Sebastian Vettel in the podium preparation area.
Horner called the decision “appalling” and “unbelievably harsh” while Verstappen launched into a tirade.
“We had a really great race, but with those stupid decisions you really kill the sport,” Verstappen said. “It’s one idiot steward up there, which always makes decisions against me.
“At the end of the day, everybody is running wide everywhere and there are no track limits.
“At Turn Nine, you can run wide, at Turn 19 you can go off the track and nobody will say anything.
“It’s the same with (Valtteri) Bottas … I went for a move and he continued outside the track. He came back so I really had to pass him and nothing has been done against that while he definitely gained advantage.
“It’s not good for the sport,” Verstappen added. “They have to be really clear on the rules … We cannot make up the rules.
“The crowd is loving it and then you do something like that in front of world TV. You pick up somebody from the podium and tell them to go away!
“It’s not good for the crowd. I really hope next year nobody is coming, because, like this, the sport doesn’t make sense.”