Horner given official warning by FIA after 'rogue marshal' comment


Christian Horner was issued with a warning for bringing the sport into disrepute after comments he made about a marshal at the Qatar GP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 20: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks in the Paddock during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail International Circuit on November 20, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Horner was issued with a warning after comments about marshals at the Qatar GP

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Christian Horner has been given an official warning after calling into question the competence of marshals at this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty after not slowing during the Pierre Gasly incident which occurred during yesterday’s qualifying session, the Dutchman maintaining his pace despite waved yellow flags.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was forthright in his views on the matter when speaking to Sky F1 earlier today, putting it it as a “rogue marshal”.

“We’re really struggling to understand it,” Horner said to Sky Sports. “It looks like a complete balls-up. The FIA have effectively said, ‘Play on, the circuit is safe, it’s clear.’ Max was in the first sector, we had so much time to look at it. The dash, everything for him, if indicated otherwise, we would of course, had informed him.

“Unfortunately there’s a yellow flag — he just didn’t see it. He saw the white one (panel), he saw the car, he even saw a green light on the right-hand side. I think it’s just a rogue marshal that stuck a flag out. He’s not instructed to by the FIA — they’ve got to have control of the marshals. It’s as simple as that. That’s a crucial blow in the championship for us. We’re now starting P7 at a track you can’t overtake at. That is massive.

“What’s frustrating is that the race director has said, ‘Get on, it’s fine, it’s a safe track, finish your laps.’ All the signals that we have say that the track is safe, even the slippery surface is gone, so there’s nothing to communicate to the driver. I think there needs to be some grown-ups make grown-up decisions.”

Red Bull’s young driver guru Helmut Marko wasn’t much softer with his words.

“It’s ridiculous. You know the FIA can’t organise a proper marshalling system and they are hiding their incompetence on the shoulders of the driver. Unbelievable.”

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The comments weren’t warmly received by the FIA, which duly summoned Horner to the Stewards office as soon as the flag fell in Losail for allegedly being in breach of the International Sporting Code – specifically Articles 12.2.1 f) and 12.2.1 k), in relation to competitors conduct.

The two articles concerned say an offence is committed if a competitor has issued: “Any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

After apologising to the Stewards, Horner was issued with a warning.

“Team Principal (Christian Horner)[…]explained his reaction was one that was made under the pressure of competition following the penalty imposed on the driver of Car 33,” an FIA statement said.

“The Stewards explained that the marshal concerned was doing his job in precisely the way prescribed in the International Sporting Code.

“Mr Horner offered to apologise to the marshal concerned and explain to the media he meant no offence.

“He also offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme in early February.”

Prior to the hearing, Horner was apologetic when interviewed by Sky after the race.

“Some comments from our interview earlier, where you asked me about the marshalling – marshals do a wonderful, wonderful job and volunteers, they do a great job and my frustration in what I voiced earlier wasn’t a marshal’s [fault] it was a circumstance and so if any offence was taken by any individual then obviously I apologise,” he said.

When Damon Hill suggested that Horner is “quite punchy” with comments he makes in the media, the Red Bull boss replied: “I’m straight, I tell you what I think. If I think you’re being an a*** I’ll tell you you’re being an a***.”

Tensions have been mounting in the F1 paddock as the title fight between Mercedes and Red Bull has intensified, with Horner earlier this week accusing the Brackley squad of contravening rules by using an alleged flexi-wing, saying the team’s speed was “not normal”.