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Verstappen unchanged on view over Austin penalty, but regrets comments

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Max Verstappen has not changed his view on the penalty that denied him a podium finish in last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but admitted on Thursday he regretted his choice of words in criticizing one of the Formula 1 race stewards.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday, having completed the fightback with a last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen.

However, the overtake was immediately scrutinized by the stewards at COTA, who deemed Verstappen to have cut part of a corner by riding over the kerb, and handed him a five-second time penalty.

Verstappen made his anger over the penalty clear after the race, telling British TV that it was “one idiot steward” who always targeted him, thought to be Garry Connelly, who has previously sanctioned the Red Bull driver.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, Verstappen stressed his view on the penalty had not changed, but admitted he was wrong to use the words he did.

“I think after a race the emotions run high, especially when you’ve been taken off a podium which I think I deserved,” Verstappen said.

“I think the punishment was not correct because everybody was running off the track in Turn 19, 8 and 9, even in Turn 6 when you were behind someone you were cutting the inside – a lot of cars were doing it.

“Also the fans I think were loving it, it was a great move and then they tell you that you’re gaining an advantage while overtaking someone. If I was really gaining an advantage I would do it every single lap, which you are not, so I don’t think it was gaining an advantage.

“Like I said, a lot of other people did it as well, they were cutting the inside of the corners and then I am the only one who was getting penalized, which I think is of course not correct.

“I could have used different words, for sure. But like I also said I was angry at that time because I think it was not correct and I’ve already said all the reasons why I think it was not correct.

“So you also have to understand a bit my point of it, but of course the words were not correct. I can’t change that right now and it was not meant for anyone.

“I was not trying to offend anyone, otherwise I would have named them by name if I wanted to offend someone.”

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”