Verstappen penalty call "the worst I've ever seen" - Lauda

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Mercedes Formula 1 chairman Niki Lauda has labelled the call to penalise Max Verstappen in the United States Grand Prix as the worst decision he’s ever seen.

Red Bull driver Verstappen was given a five-second penalty after passing the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen down the inside of COTA's Turn 17 on the last lap of the race.

This dropped him back from third to fourth, as he had been deemed to have gained an advantage by putting all four wheels off-track.

Reacting to the penalty, Lauda said: "This decision is the worst I’ve ever seen. He [Verstappen] did nothing wrong. We’re racing drivers, we’re not on a normal road.

"It’s ridiculous to destroy the sport with this kind of decision."

Lauda recalled that all parties had agreed in a meeting last year to allow drivers to race without unnecessary interference.

“We got the stewards in to tell us how fast stewards could go during a race,” he said. “Because it always says ‘under investigation'. So we complained about that.

"The stewards were in, [Jean] Todt asked everybody, Charlie [Whiting] was there, we were there, and there we agreed all together that unless it is dangerous, the stewards would not interfere.

“Very simple. If they drive over [each other] and go upside down, only then they [the stewards] will come in. It was the beginning of last year."

Lauda added that the Verstappen penalty meant the matter would have to be discussed again.

"Next strategy [group] meeting we need to bring it up to the agenda and start it all over again. Because we cannot do that, it’s going too far.

"There was nothing to interfere with, it was a normal overtaking.”

The three-time world champion insisted that F1 drivers should be allowed to use all the available road surface.

“Charlie argues all the time there’s white lines and you cannot drive over them. 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.”

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event United States GP
Track Circuit of the Americas
Drivers Niki Lauda , Max Verstappen
Teams Red Bull Racing
Article type Breaking news