After the Qatar Grand Prix, Christian Horner had to report to the stewards for statements he had made before the race. After Max Verstappen was given a grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags, the Red Bull Racing team boss said there was a “rogue marshal” waving flags on his own initiative. He was eventually given an official warning after apologizing to the marshal in question and also offering to participate in the FIA’s International Stewards Programme.
Horner’s statements are part of a wider verbal battle between the Red Bull boss and his Mercedes colleague Toto Wolff. It sometimes feels a bit like a soap opera and while McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl also sees that as part of the appeal of F1, he also thinks there is a limit to how his team is allowed to express itself. “If you look at what’s happening right now, it’s clear there’s a lot at stake,” Seidl said. “It’s different from the fighting further back. To a certain extent it’s great for the fans and the show too, because in the end it has to be entertainment too.”
“But I can’t imagine that some of the statements we’ve seen in recent weeks come from us in such a situation. I think it is very important that you always remain respectful towards the opponents, the FIA and F1. It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting for wins or riding behind. We do this together and it is important that there is respect for the volunteers. In the end, they help us to be able to hold these race weekends.”
After the race in Qatar, F1 race director Michael Masi said he had informed the stewards of Horner’s statements, which he had made before the race. Sky Sports did. “You shouldn’t attack any person, especially since we have thousands of volunteer marshals worldwide who give up a lot of their time,” Masi said. “Without them, this sport – which is dear to everyone’s heart and for which they give up a lot of time – would not take place. I will defend every volunteer official on every track in the world and emphasize that this is not acceptable.”