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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Max Verstappen accuses F1 stewards of 'killing the sport' and urges fans to boycott United States Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing driver started 16th on the grid to finish third but his late overtake of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen earned a five-second penalty and demoted him off the podium.

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 United States Grand Prix on Sunday.

With Red Bull Racing 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."

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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 Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in the pre-podium room, for exceeding the 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.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, a triple world champion, also agreed, even as his team celebrated their fourth successive constructors' championship.

"This decision is the worst I've ever seen," he told reporters. "He (Verstappen) did nothing wrong. These are racing drivers, we're not on a normal road and it's ridiculous to destroy the sport with this kind of decision.

"At the next strategy meeting we'll bring it up the agenda and start all over again because we cannot do that, going too far and interfering. It was a normal overtaking."