Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has said that the stewards' decision to penalise Max Verstappen at the US Grand Prix is the worst decision he's ever seen in Formula 1. Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty following the chequered flag.
The stewards deemed that Verstappen had illegally overtaken Raikkonen on the last lap as the two battled for the final step on the podium. Verstappen was led out of the podium room and vented his anger at the stewards in his post-race comments.
Lauda, a three-time world champion, defended the 20-year-old, claiming he has never seen a worse ruling decision in the history of the sport: "We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says 'under investigation'," he said
"So we complained about that and the stewards were there, Charlie [Whiting, F1 race director] was there and we were there, and there we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere. Very simple. If the driver goes over another and [ends up] upside down, only then would they weigh in.
"That was at the beginning of last year. For six months it was OK, but this decision today was the worst I've ever seen. He [Verstappen] did nothing wrong. These are racing drivers and we are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions."
Mercedes also wrapped up its fourth constructor's title in Austin, and Lauda stated that he was delighted to have achieved it: "Thank you to everyone at Brackley and Brixworth. Together we made it. An unbelievable result and I'm really happy."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing