Formula One driver Max Verstappen thought he had a third place finish at the United State Grand Prix on Sunday. He walked out to the podium when officials told him they were handing him a five-second penalty for his last-lap pass of Kimi Raikkonen, which knocked Verstappen back to fourth place.
All four of Verstappen’s tires were below the white line at Turn 17, but Verstappen argued that drivers had been exceeding track limits throughout the race and didn’t think it warranted a penalty.
“Everyone was loving it — it was a great show,” Verstappen said. “Like I said, be consistent. If it’s not allowed, then I understand and I finish fourth. But don’t say to everyone else you can run off the track wherever you like, because they never gave any penalties, and then I do it and they give me a penalty.”
Here’s Verstappen’s pass of Raikkonen. The two were battling for position for most of the race.
It’s not the first time Verstappen has been penalized late in the race. He suffered a similar fate in the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda said via ESPN that the recent decision at the United States Grand Prix was one of the worst decisions he had ever seen.
“But why can you not drive over white lines if it is possible? Build a wall there if you want, but as long as there is normal circuit you can use it. The white line is not a limit, we agreed this last year. It was all agreed and now this. I think it’s wrong, completely wrong.”
The decision was certainly polarizing, and it cost Verstappen a spot at the podium. It might be a rule worth revisiting in the offseason for F1 officials.