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AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing is given the winners trophy from Governor of Texas Greg Abbott on the podium following the F1 Grand Prix of United States at Circuit of The Americas on October 22, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Outside Line: Verstappen or Abbot booed at US GP?

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing is given the winners trophy from Governor of Texas Greg Abbott on the podium following the F1 Grand Prix of United States at Circuit of The Americas on October 22, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen is no stranger to being booed at, but the boo brigade that wormed their way into the crowd at the United States Grand Prix, rose in cowardly chorus as Red Bull’s triple Formula 1 World Champion hoisted the winner’s trophy aloft. But was it him they were booing or Texas Governor Greg Abbott?

Footage reveals the booing was triggered as Governor Abbott entered the frame to hand out the winner’s trophy to Max on the podium. So who was being booed?

Boos are not foreign to Governor Abbott who was booed by a crowd outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where 21 people, including 19 children, were killed by a gunman last year in May, after the deadliest school shooting in the USA, in nearly a decade.

This year in June, The Guardian reported that Governor Abbott, serving his third term, was mocked and “drew online ridicule after sharing a fake article about country singer Garth Brooks being booed off the stage in a purported display of patriotism.”

However, if the boos on Sunday at COTA were indeed directed at Verstappen (which is not 100% certain) they were totally out of place, dastardly and unwarranted. And whichever way it was on Sunday after the race, it’s a subject worth exploring as F1 heads to Mexico where his underfire teammate Sergio Perez has a huge patriotic following. How they react to Max will be interesting…

Drivers deserve a standing ovation and cheers after every GP victory

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes, Third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren and John Hammond of Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of United States at Circuit of The Americas on October 22, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

During the US GP on Sunday, in front of a heaving packed house, the Red Bull ace was made to work harder than he has all year for a victory. Max won anyway despite a brake issue he relayed to all during his gritty drive from P6 on the grid to the top step of the podium.

The win also ticked off some neat milestones for the 26-year-old Dutch ace including it being his third victory in a row at COTA aka a hat-trick, it was his 50th Grand Prix victory (one short of matching F1 legend Alain Prost) and with it, he tied his own 2022 season record of 15 GP wins in a single season.

For the win under trying circumstances alone, Max deserved a standing ovation, for the other accolades even more so. Respect was denied to one of the finest race drivers of all time, who has only just got started on an incredible journey we are privileged to watch.

One could argue he was a tad nasty to his RBR engineer Gianpiero Lambiase when berating him for talking on the radio while the driver was struggling with brakes. F1 is a war and what’s said under those conditions is between ‘soldiers’ in battle, that we get to eavesdrop is perhaps an intrusion too far.

At one point, Lambiase came on the radio at the wrong time and Verstappen lost it: “No talking in the braking, man.” The highlight of the hissy fit was: “Mate, these brakes are so shit compared to yesterday. What a piece of shit.”

Hopefully, Adrian Newey and his team who have delivered the RB19 masterpiece for Max to strut his stuff, did not hear the comment. Because “a piece of shit” is one thing the #1 Red Bull car is not!
But was that brief faux pas, in the heat of battle, by Max worth booing at?

Chandhok: Booing is pathetic

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium following the F1 Grand Prix of United States at Circuit of The Americas on October 22, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

There should never be occasions that warrant a race driver being booed on a podium. It’s cowardly, demeaning and downright mass bullying of some of the greatest sportsmen on the planet. Those who were there, and booed our triple F1 World Champ should be ashamed of themselves. They are a disgrace to sport. Not F1 fans for sure.

Credit to Verstappen’s archrival Lewis Hamilton, in COTA parc ferme, after an enthralling race, who showed his class: “First of all, I think we have to congratulate these guys.

“This team has just done an incredible job all year long, just dominated, and Max has been really flawless, so we were catching him towards the end and I was hopeful – but we needed some more laps,” lamented Hamilton.

The seven-time F1 World Champion was also a victim of the boo brigade during his time of dominance and regular winning. It comes with the territory they say, well I am afraid it is never acceptable. And best summed up by Karun Chandhok’s tweet: “Booing is pathetic…”

Indeed it is if it were directed at Max, my guess is that Governor Abbott was the target of the derision on Sunday afternoon at COTA.