Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen received a "post-race time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage by leaving the track" while passing Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen for third place on the final lap of the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, according to Sam Hall of AUTOWEEK. After the race, Verstappen said that decisions like that "kill the sport." Verstappen -- "voted driver of the day" by F1 fans -- "recovered from his 15-place grid drop for an engine change" to finish in what he thought was third place. While "chatting with race winner Lewis Hamilton in the cool down room however, the smile suddenly vanished from the Red Bull driver’s face" as Räikkönen entered the room "and Verstappen was asked to leave." The five-second time penalty -- switching the positions of Verstappen and Raikkonen -- was handed out "because all four wheels of Verstappen’s car had left the track, cutting part of the corner," in a last-ditch bid to reach the podium. Verstappen: "The engine penalty is like it is, so we had a great race but with these stupid decisions you really kill the sport. I mean, I really hope the fans didn’t like this decision and next year they won't come." Expecting to "watch his driver walk out onto the podium," Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner was "equally displeased by the decision" (AUTOWEEK, 10/22). AUTOSPORT's Adam Cooper reported Mercedes non-exec Chair Niki Lauda said, "This decision is the worst I've ever seen, he did nothing wrong. We're racing drivers, we're not on a normal road, it's ridiculous to destroy the sport with this kind of decision." Lauda recalled that it was "agreed in a meeting last year to allow drivers to race without unnecessary interference from officials." He said, "We got the stewards in to tell us how fast stewards could go during a race" (AUTOSPORT, 10/22).
Events and Attractions
Saudi Arabia announced five int'l sports partnerships and the Saudi General Sports Authority confirmed agreements with the World Boxing Super Series and La Liga. Motor racing, drone racing and chess will also venture into new ground in the country. The final of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament will be held in Saudi Arabia next year. Away from the ring, The GSA, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and La Liga announced a new partnership as part of a broader commitment to grow the game of football across all levels in the country. The multi-year partnership will see branding opportunities and La Liga will grant the SAFF the rights to create and develop local football academies under the brand, technical supervision, and expertise of La Liga. The Drone Racing League and the GSA announced the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship will take place in Saudi Arabia next September. It will be the first professional drone race staged in the kingdom. The Race Of Champions will come to Saudi Arabia as part of a new partnership between the GSA and Int'l Media Productions. The event will take place in late summer '18 at the King Fahd Int'l Stadium in Riyadh. The World Chess Federation (FIDE) and the GSA also struck a deal that will see the King Salmon World Chess Championship staged in Saudi Arabia for the next three years from December. The World Chess Final Match will be staged in Saudi Arabia in '20 -- the first time the final has ever been played in the country (GSA).