September 23, 2021, 5:15

Max Verstappen’s US GP penalty is defended by the FIA

Max Verstappen’s US GP penalty is defended by the FIA

F1’s governing body has insisted accusations of inconsistency following Max Verstappen’s US GP penalty are “without foundation”.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has also called on the Red Bull driver to apologise over his post-race criticism of the Austin stewards after calling one an “idiot”.

“It wasn’t appropriate and we are discussing things with Max,” Whiting told Sky Sports News. “It would be nice if he was to apologise for using inappropriate language.”

Whiting defended Garry Connelly, the steward to whom Verstappen’s disparaging remark was directed, and rubbished any notion the Australian official has an agenda against the Dutchman.

In a presentation to the media at the Mexican GP, Whiting used video evidence showing different examples of drivers running wide off the track during qualifying and the race last weekend.

Whiting said race control “saw nothing that gave us any cause for concern” apart from Verstappen’s last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen.

“The accusations of inconsistently are pretty much without foundation,” said Whiting.

“The only time a driver gained a clear advantage he was penalised.”

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“The point is the stewards felt he had gained an advantage, had shortened the track, clearly he was off the track, and he passed another car.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, Whiting reiterated: “There was no other incident at that part of the track. I can say, hand on heart, there was complete consistency there.

“We can come up with 20 or so examples of drivers leaving the track but we examined them and determined that no advantage had been gained. There is consistency.

“Only Max cut a corner and if you look at previous examples of other drivers cutting a corner, [Jolyon] Palmer was penalised in Monza and [Sergio] Perez was penalised at Spa for doing exactly the same thing.

“As far as l can see, there is complete consistency.”

Paul di Resta is at the Skypad to review the decision to penalise Max Verstappen for his overtake on Kimi Raikkonen

Verstappen and his Red Bull team were livid with the decision to impose a five-second penalty, which cost the driver the final podium place. The Dutchman hit out at “one idiot steward who always makes the decisions up there against me”, with his fury aimed at Connelly.

The Australian, deputy president of the FIA’s safety institute, was also a steward when Verstappen was stripped of a podium in Mexico last year, in addition to this year’s Hungarian GP when the Dutchman was penalised for hitting team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Put to him that statistics suggest Connelly, a five-time steward this season, hands out more penalty points to drivers on average than others, Whiting replied: “I’ve seen those statistics and they don’t paint the correct picture.

“I think it’s coincidence that Garry happened to be there. You can’t tie these things together. I know Garry very well and a more honest and scrupulous person you couldn’t come across.

“Any idea that he may have it in for a driver is wholly unfounded.

The FIA race director also revealed the decision to penalise Verstappen was “unanimous” among the four stewards. The panel included former Ferrari and Toyota driver Mika Salo, who has since revealed he has received death threats in wake of the Verstappen sanction.

But Whiting did accept that there remained ambiguity surrounding the rules about drivers leaving the track and that more still needed to be done to ensure drivers running wide could not gain any advantage.

See if Lewis Hamilton can clinch his fourth world championship at the Mexican GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1. Sunday’s race begins at 7pm. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!


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