Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has blasted the stewards at the United States Grand Prix for making an "appalling" decision to strip Max Verstappen of a podium finish for allegedly gaining an advantage by going off-track late on.

Verstappen barged his way past Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the race through the final sector, appearing to ride the kerb when completing the move after a stunning fight from 16th on the grid.

The overtake sparked celebrations both in the crowd and the Red Bull garage due to its bravado, but the stewards - led by Mika Salo in Austin - did not view it the same way.

Not long after taking the checkered flag, Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty that demoted him to fourth behind Raikkonen, with the Red Bull driver being led away from the cool-down room before the podium.

Horner echoed Verstappen's frustration with Salo when speaking to Channel 4 after the race, believing the Dutchman had been unfairly targeted after a race that saw track limits be pushed regularly.

"“Look there’s a driver going off track there, stays ahead. How come that’s allowed?" Horner said while watching Valtteri Bottas' defensive move on Verstappen earlier in the race.

"Valtteri at Turn 1, Turn 2, Turn 15. Max has driven an amazing drive. He’s gone for the gap here. Kimi’s closed it. That looks nothing worse to me than we’ve seen several times this grand prix by other drivers.

"I’ve just gone and had a fairly frank discussion with the stewards and expressed my satisfaction with their decision-making. I think it’s an appalling decision.

"It’s no coincidence the same steward is as Mexico last year. What was agreed after Mexico was that complete palava with the podium was that the drivers would be at least investigated.

"Max hasn’t even been given the opportunity to state his case. I could pick out 20 other incidents from that grand prix where the same thing has gone unpunished.

"Where’s the consistency?"