Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has called out the FIA stewards for showing a lack of consistency in their decision making after Max Verstappen was stripped of a podium finish in Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

Verstappen fought from P16 on the grid to pass Kimi Raikkonen for third place on the last lap in Austin, only for the stewards to hit him with a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Verstappen and Horner slammed the penalty after the race, while a number of other figures in the F1 paddock also waded in, including Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, who called it "the worst decision I've ever seen".

Much of the debate after the race surrounding the definition of track limits, but Horner felt the bigger problem was the lack of consistency from the stewards after seeing a number of other off-track excursions go unpunished in the race.

"If you don’t want cars to go there, put a bigger curb or gravel or something else there," Horner said.

"What is annoying is the lack of consistency. Where do you draw the line? For the fans and casual viewers, it needs to clear. How can you say what Valtteri did, on one hand, is okay but what Max did isn’t?

"In any other sport if you are out you are out. You can’t have it’s alright to be out there but not okay to be out here. Either get rid of it completely and just let them race. Or if you don’t want the cars to go there put in a gravel trap or bigger curbs or a deterrent for drivers not to go there.

"The problem is that we all spend an awful lot of money going motor racing, and you want it to be consistently and professionally refereed.

"When you get decisions like today it is difficult to understand where the consistency is."

Horner also felt the need to rush through a decision and ensure the right drivers stood on the podium affected the stewards' call, leaving them under pressure.

"They were desperate to get the right people on the podium but they then jumped to a conclusion without considering all of the facts," Horner said.

"After Mexico last year when there was at least one steward that was involved in that decision, it was agreed that to avoid the debacle of Mexico where there were three different people on the podium, to take a breath to understand and listen to the drivers.

"If you look at the consistency of decision making, that is what is disappointing today."