Robbed at the death by a last-gasp stewards’ decision, Max Verstappen’s stunning United States Grand Prix drive was overshadowed by a controversial ruling which cost the Dutchman an eleventh career podium finish, leaving the world of F1 with plenty to debate and a visibly frustrated Red Bull Racing camp up in arms. Mobil 1 The Grid reports on a weekend of thrills and spills on the Red Bull side of the Austin paddock…
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen produced a stunning recovery drive to finish fourth in the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. And it could have been more, but for a controversial stewards’ decision which left the Dutchman reeling.
Verstappen started 16th on the grid, after penalties for component changes, but fought his way through the field using an alternative strategy.
The 20 year old passed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for third on the final lap, but was given a five-second time penalty by the stewards for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, resulting in an eventual fourth place finish; missing out on what looked at the time to be a third consecutive podium finish since his victory in Malaysia.
“I am feeling good after the race but of course it is never nice to be about to step out onto the podium and then have it taken away”, said Verstappen.
“They should at least let us talk it through in the stewards’ room first and voice our opinions. I had a great race and I am happy with fourth, but it’s the way I got there that hurts.”
It was a sentiment echoed by team principal Christian Horner, who described the stewards’ decision as “particularly galling”.
“[We] are just sorry for Max and the fans that they didn’t get the podium they deserved today,” he said.
On the other side of the garage, Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo had his own frustrations to deal with. The Australian battled for a podium position early on, before stopping on track with a technical issue.
Though the results on track ended in disappointment for the team, Red Bull Racing showed a strong performance across the Austin weekend overall, with Verstappen boosted by an engine upgrade from supplier Renault.
“We take comfort from the fact we had a competitive car,” said Horner. “He [Max] made incredible progress, [with] some great passing manoeuvres… and, without the issue today, Daniel would have been on the podium again.”
Away from the drama on track, the Austin weekend proved to be an action-packed affair, with music from Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder, and an appearance on the podium from eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.
Earlier in the race weekend, Ricciardo and Verstappen had taken part in an American Football practice session at Del Valle High School, where the pair practised high kicks, field goal attempts, evasion drills, throwing and receiving.
“I love ball sports, and it’s always good to try something new,” said Ricciardo. “I really liked the camaraderie. Actually, I got a bit too excited and I’ve lost my voice – lots of screaming and shouting – but a really great experience.”
A self-proclaimed fan of the city of Austin, Ricciardo got to experience a further taste of Texan culture on Friday evening when he attended a BBQ, hosted by ExxonMobil. The 28 year old carried out a series of interviews with multiple US TV broadcasters at the event, before taking part in a very-Texan ‘Pump To Win’ challenge.
Formula One now heads to Mexico, with the next Grand Prix taking place at Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on 27-29th October.