Sports

Verstappen, Horner angry over podium demotion

Max Verstappen accused Formula One stewards of killing the sport and suggested fans could stay away in protest after he was stripped of a podium place at the US Grand Prix, which was won by Lewis Hamilton yesterday morning (Singapore time).

With Red Bull boss Christian Horner and past champions joining in the outcry, the 20-year-old Dutch driver vented his feelings.

"The engine penalty is what it is," said Verstappen, who started 16th after being demoted for power unit changes.

"We had a great race but with those stupid decisions, you kill the sport.

"I hope the fans do not like this decision and next year they do not come."

Verstappen had thrilled the crowd with a last-lap overtaking move on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to take third place and was voted Driver of the Day by fans.

He was then demoted to fourth, while waiting with race winner Hamilton and second-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in the pre-podium room, for exceeding track limits to gain an advantage.

As the driver headed back down the stairs, team principal Horner let rip at what he saw as inconsistent behaviour by the stewards who had not punished others for similar offences during the race.

"It is an appalling decision. They have robbed all of the fans here. It was a great Grand Prix and they have screwed it up," he said.

"We could pull out five or six different incidents today of cars going off track," he said. "Where do you gain an advantage and not gain an advantage?"

It was the second time that Verstappen has been demoted from the podium by stewards post-race, with the youngster also missing out in Mexico last year for cutting a corner.

Meanwhile, Hamilton will have to wait another week for his fourth F1 world championship, but he has already smoked a victory cigar which he bought in Cuba.

With three races left and a 66-point advantage over Ferrari's Vettel, Hamilton can clinch the world championship again if he finishes in the top five in Mexico. - WIRE SERVICES

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