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.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.