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Verstappen penalty kicks up a s**tstorm

NEWS STORY
23/10/2017

Whatever one thought of Liberty Media's pre-show 'entertainment', you have to admit that they tried. Whether it worked or not remains to be seen.

However, despite their best efforts, they will wake this morning to find that no matter how hard one tries, no matter what one does, F1 has this extraordinary ability to shoot itself in the foot, to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

And while the s**tstorm that follows yesterday's Grand Prix has nothing to do with drivers 'taking the knee', it is a s**tstorm nonetheless.

Having witnessed a bold, brave move that saw Max Verstappen take the final podium place, having started the afternoon from 16th on the grid. Having seen the youngster congratulated by his team and then make his way to the ante-room before stepping out on to the podium, discussing that move with Sebastian Vettel and generally basking in the moment, fans saw the Red Bull driver being told that he had been penalised, and thereby demoted to fourth, and unceremonially banished from the celebration.

Like a confused schoolboy he left the ante room, where an equally confused Kimi Raikkonen took his place, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of just about everyone.

Indeed, one with a cruel sense of humour, bearing in mind that Bill Clinton was to present the winner's trophy, might even say, ‘close but no cigar'.

For while the youngster had exceeded the track limits and therefore broken the rules, this had been happening all weekend, and the only driver to be punished was the Dutchman, for a move made in one of the penultimate corners of the final lap.

"Shame on you FIA," tweeted his father Jos, a man not unused to controversy. "Obviously F1 don't know what racing is."

And so it began.

"This decision is the worst I've ever seen," said Niki Lauda. "He did nothing wrong.

"We're racing drivers, we're not on a normal road," added the Austrian, one of the greatest drivers to ever grace the sport. "It's ridiculous to destroy the sport with this kind of decision.

"At the next strategy meeting we'll bring it up the agenda and start all over again," he warned, "because we cannot do that, going too far and interfering. It was a normal overtaking.

"Charlie argues all the time there's white lines and you cannot drive over them," he fumed, referring to race director Charlie Whiting. "Why cannot you drive over white lines if it is possible? Build a wall there if you want. As long as there is normal circuit, you can use it. A white line is not a limit. We agreed this all, last year it was all agreed. And now we get this decision. I think it's completely wrong."

In the midst of all this, the Max broke cover, tweeting: "Disappointed with the inconsistency in decisions regarding track limits this whole weekend. Feel robbed but it was a superb drive."

Indeed, on the in lap at the end of the race, the Dutchman was delirious with joy, claiming it to be his best race ever.

Initially, on learning of the decision, the youngster had expressed disbelief, and asked about the decision let loose, a move that could see him in further hot water..

"I get a five-second penalty and a penalty point, but for what?" he asked reporters, the opening ceremony now a distant memory. "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."

Indeed.

Team boss Christian Horner appeared to take it one step further, suggesting not only inconsistency in the stewarding of the sport, but even possible bias.

"They said they wouldn't make that hasty decision again," he told Sky Sports F1. "They said that they'd listen, they'd look at all the facts, they'd 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. 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."

In reaction to Verstappen's comments, he said: "He has the right to express himself and in any sport emotions run high, that's what sport is," If he'd had said he was happy with that decision I'd be amazed."

Asked if F1 stewards are up to the job, he said: "It's a question that has been raised before. Consistency of stewarding depends on the stewards you get on the day.

"F1 is still immature in this country," he added, "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, I understand it was discussed earlier in the weekend."

And if Liberty Media think this is the kind of nonsense it has let itself in for, just wait until the serious talk gets around to budget caps, prize money distribution and the new engine rules.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Austin, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by imejl99, 24/10/2017 14:33

"Max got away with lot of stuff before, now is punished. His own reputation got him this time.

Consistency..."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Pavlo, 24/10/2017 11:45

"To mickl - it's not possible to have this issue 100% resolved by kerbs. Unless you want to have new game "guess where can you cut and get advantage". It was a part of the game in the old sims :)
So I 100% agree with Brundle, and they need to apply it consistently - Max got much more advantage by cutting in sector 1 than by cutting during the overtake, so everyone should be consistently penalized for cutting the track always. It's so simple, like with yellow flags - if after getting over the line your sector time is faster or similar to average, it's an immediate penalty. No matter, whether you overtook someone or not. And to start with, the qualifying laps with getting off the track should not be counted (so almost all the grid should have had slower laps).

To Jet Jockey - Max did explicitly put blame on the other steward, who was never associated with Ferrari."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Jet Jockey, 24/10/2017 9:24

"Isn’t Salo an ex Ferrari driver? Possible conflict of interest?

That aside the real problem as others have mentioned is consistency in the calls."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by mickl, 23/10/2017 23:34

"@Pavlo. For tracks that are also used for motogp they can use the bolt down 'sausage' kerbs that can be removed after the race. This was commented on a couple of times on the Sky commentary during free practice.

I agree with Martin Brundle. Have a blanket, no all four wheels leaving the track rule unless you've obviously lost control and by that I don't mean outbraking yourself."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Pavlo, 23/10/2017 22:59

"One more thing - if you look onboard from Max for the whole last lap, in sector 1 Max was cutting many corners while Kimi got them all clean, and Max was visibly getting closer. Unlike the last cut on overtake, that was probably unnecessary already, all the previous did really allow to "gain the advantage", but were not seen by the stewards. Here I agree with Max - we need a consistency."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Pavlo, 23/10/2017 18:54

"It's bigger than just inconsistency. Alex Wurz (who is commenting on Austrian TV) said that the stewards and Charlie Whiting in particular made it clear to the drivers that they are not worried about track limits in Austin. And he repeated this every time someone ran wide (so about 5 times during the race, including when Kimi did it).
If not this, I would agree with everyone below that Max did break the rules and fairly punished. But I think there should be 2 types of cases: either they build kerbs like in India where cutting the track would most likely break the suspension. Or they say that the track is designed to host other events like MotoGP, so there are no kerbs but the drivers should obey the limits (especially in certain corners), and investigate every case like they did in Hungary last year.
Or at least they should just avoid unnecessary communication - just don't give any message to the drivers and then this one penalty would not be questioned. Same applies to Austria this year - I do agree with stewards' decision not to penalize Bottas for the jump start, the explanation from the same Mika Salo made it sound like they made an unfair mistake. Or even better, if Liberty wants to improve the show, they can provide more information to the spectators about the rules and reasons of making the decisions.
Indeed, very good that they made the decision quickly."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by C5, 23/10/2017 18:31

"Completely agree with jasman and Rock Doc - there's a difference exceeding the racetrack limits on your own, when forced wide and when passing from behind. If you come from behind, you need to make it stick within the limits and without making contact. You just do. Regardless of what it does or doesn't do for the "show".

If the problem is drivers not understanding the concept of track limits, build walls. No-one exceeds track limits in Monaco, Montreal or Singapore without getting penalized. Gravel or Teflon covered curbing may work too.

Max' infringement was pretty marginal, but the impact on the result was significant. In the end I think the ruling was harsh, but correct. And regardless of the way the ruling went I am at least very happy they made it BEFORE the podium ceremony.

I see inconsistently enforcement as a much bigger issue, and I think Max is correct calling that out.
"

Rating: Positive (5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by DJ, 23/10/2017 16:46

"As "Lapps" effectively commented, Whiting and the stewards are afraid of Ferrari and always give them what they want."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by Rhaycen, 23/10/2017 14:09

"I don't have a problem with Verstappen being punished for going off track and gaining an advantage, if this is what happened then there is no problem. The problem is that that particular rule hadn't been enforced all weekend, so as a viewer there is no consistency in applying the rules.

It also comes down to a problem that neither Liberty nor the FIA seem to completely understand, "the show" isn't the hour before the race starts with a bunch of nonsensical announcements, it isn't the Justin Timberlake concert or whomever they have around to entertain fans when there is no racing going on. "The Show" is the 90-120 minutes of F1 racing that happens ...

Verstappen and Kimi put up a good show, and somehow got punished doing so ... in a way that nobody can reasonably explain, by what seems to be a possibly biased heavy hand of inconsistent stewards. This can only count as a complete loss for Formula 1."

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Lapps, 23/10/2017 14:03

"I wonder if Max would have been penalised if the car he was passing wasn’t Red? F1 has form in this area. "

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11. Posted by Mad Matt, 23/10/2017 13:45

"I'm with Rock Doc on this one although I really can't see why they don't enforce track limits at all points. Surly the skill of a great drive is winning while staying on the track.

I was watching ta few old BTCC races again and they seem to be able to make a good go of enforcing it and the races are still more entertaining than F1."

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12. Posted by VC10-1103, 23/10/2017 13:38

"jasmine - and the pre-race embarrassment."

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13. Posted by Rock Doc, 23/10/2017 13:38

"The thing here is about gaining an advantage. We've seen it in many races where they go off the circuit and gain an advantage. Lovely move yesterday but he did go off and did gain an advantage. I don't like the ruling but it was the right one. And for once it was done immediately. We've seen podiums before that have been totally wrong.

Harsh but I think the correct one."

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14. Posted by jasman, 23/10/2017 13:35

"I really think the boys to gather for a podcast on the subject."

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15. Posted by @R1Racing71, 23/10/2017 13:31

"They could put some gravel just beyond the edge of the track......."

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