Max Verstappen has backed away from apologising for his criticism of the US GP stewards following his controversial podium demotion.
The Red Bull driver hit out at “one idiot steward” after being handed a five-second post-race penalty, which demoted him from third place in Austin, for overtaking Kimi Raikkonen after running off track.
“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,” raged Verstappen.
“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.”
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It’s understood Verstappen’s barb was primarily directed at race steward Garry Connelly.
But Mika Salo, the former F1 driver who was part of the stewards’ panel in Texas, has revealed he received death threats in the wake of Verstappen’s demotion.
In Thursday’s press conference for this weekend’s Mexican GP, Verstappen admitted he regretted his language but swerved away from making a full apology.
“After a race, emotions always run high, especially when you have been taken off the podium,” said Verstappen. “The punishment wasn’t correct because everyone was running off the track. And the fans loved it.
“I think it was quite normal that l got angry. I could have used different words but l still think the decision wasn’t correct.
“I was angry. But the words were not correct.”
Verstappen reiterated his insistence that his punishment was unjust, stressing that drivers had breached the Austin track limits throughout the weekend without penalty.
“If l was really gaining an advantage, l would have done it on every single lap,” Verstappen added. “I don’t think l gained an advantage.”
The 20-year-old, who did not speak to the stewards prior to his punishment being imposed, also indicated he had only cut the corner as he chased down Raikkonen on the final lap in order to avoid a collision.
“First I was trying to avoid an accident and then to overtake him,” Verstappen argued. “He tried to close the door so you have to avoid it.”
Paul di Resta is at the Skypad to review the decision to penalise Max Verstappen for his overtake on Kimi Raikkonen
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