Red Bull have insisted the Mexican GP stewards were right to strip Sebastian Vettel, their former driver, of third place for blocking Daniel Ricciardo on the penultimate lap of the race.
The ruling promoted Ricciardo to third place in a chaotic end to raceday and demoted Vettel, who may yet face further punishment for a foul-mouthed ‘meltdown’ over team radio, to fifth.
Having previously seen Max Verstappen stripped of third place, Red Bull staged a private podium ceremony at an otherwise deserted circuit for Ricciardo after the stewards’ verdict was handed down several hours after the chequered flag had fallen.
Vettel stripped of third place at Mexican GP
“I think it’s the right result and the right decision,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sportsclubsociety News HQ.
Horner also criticised Vettel’s expletive-laden rant over the team radio during the closing stages of the race, which included an outburst specifically aimed against FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
Vettel’s Mexican GP radio meltdown
“In any sport, emotions run high but what you cannot do is criticise the referee,” warned Horner.
Ferrari have expressed their disappointment with the decision to penalise Vettel with team boss Maurizio Arrivabene saying the podium was “taken away by bureaucracy”. The Italian described the sanction as “too harsh and somehow unfair”.
By contrast, a thrilled Ricciardo told SSNHQ: “I’m pleased with the outcome.”
“The only thing l am disappointed about is not to have been there [on the podium] in that moment but the podium is still there and I’m going up there to celebrate with some of the guys,” he added.
The Australian was subsequently joined on the podium for the spoof ceremony by team-mate Verstappen who had crossed the line in third only to be told he had been demoted while he stood in the drivers’ pre-podium room with race victor Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, is guaranteed to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship behind the Mercedes pair following his eighth podium-scoring result of the year.
“Mercedes have dominated for the last three years but in two out of those three years I’ve at least been the next guy,” reflected Ricciardo. “I don’t want to always be that next guy but it’s a little bit of an achievement.”
The stewards’ verdict in full
“The stewards paid particular attention to the Race Directors Notes from the US Grand Prix (v2) and from this event (point 18).
“Notwithstanding the F1 Commission directive to ‘let the drivers race’ we note the concern that has been expressed about manoeuvres involving a change of direction under braking as expressed at the Drivers Briefing at the US Grand Prix and in the Race Director’s Notes from the US Grand Prix and this event.
“The telemetry and video evidence shows that the driver of Car 5 did change direction under braking. Article 27.5 and the Race Director’s Notes have essentially three criteria that determine a breach
1) Driving in a manner potentially dangerous
2) An abnormal change of direction
3) Another driver having to take evasive action
“The video footage, including the close circuit footage, the broadcast vision, both drivers’ on board cameras plus the telemetry show that there was an abnormal change of direction by Car 5 and this was considered to be potentially dangerous in view of the proximity of the wheels of each car.
“The video evidence clearly shows that Car 3 had to take evasive action as a result. Accordingly as all three criteria have been met, the driver of Car 5 is guilty of a breach of Article 27.5.”