We don’t think Christian Horner will find himself on many Christmas card lists this year. Having started a war of words with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, the Red Bull Team Principal then turned his attentions to Qatar’s marshals. Big mistake, HUGE!
If there’s one man you don’t want to get on the wrong side of, it’s FIA Race Director Michael Masi. He might have given us some iconic moments on the radio, but Horner blaming a “ rogue marshal “ for Max Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty for the Qatar Grand Prix was the final straw.
Wonder if Masi sent him an email about it
Referring the comment to the stewards, Horner was handed an official warning for breaching the FIA International Sporting Code.
Unsurprisingly, the Red Bull boss was rather sheepish when speaking to Sky, saying that he “would like to make it clear that marshals do a wonderful, wonderful job” and apologised for taking his frustrations out on them.
Horner’s remarks went too far for Masi’s liking, who asserted he would “defend every volunteer official and every official at every racetrack around the world, that [such criticism] is not accepted”.
“I think you should not attack any person,” Masi is quoted as telling The Race. “Particularly when we have thousands of volunteer marshals around the world, that give up a huge amount of time globally, without them this sport that everyone has very close to their heart [couldn’t happen].”
“I will defend every volunteer official and every official at every racetrack around the world, that [such criticism] is not accepted.”
Marshals at each race are fully-trained for their role, although they are unpaid. They’re responsible for the flags and light panels to warn drivers when there’s an incident on track, but race control can overrule them.
In qualifying, yellow flags were brought out when Pierre Gasly pulled over on the finish straight at the end of Q3 with a broken front wing and puncture. Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas both ignored them, failing to slow down enough and were awarded grid penalties.
“They acted in the best interest of keeping everyone safe on track,” Masi added. “And I don’t think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts.”
Given the tragic incidents we’ve seen before, full credit to the marshals for their work and putting the drivers’ safety first.
Should F1 do more to tackle comments like Horner’s? Let us know in the comments below.