The FIA race director, Michael Masi, came out in defense of the F1 inspectors and criticized Christian Horner, head of Red Bull, after the dispute in the GP of Qatar, this Sunday (21). The Austrian team boss had complained about the punishment Max Verstappen received for disrespecting two yellow flags during Saturday’s qualifying, accusing a “cheating inspector” of waving them. In addition to being warned by the comment, Horner even took an ear tug from Masi.
Horner made the comment after the penalty was handed out and just before the start at Losail. Masi was told what had been said and sent the comment for the commissioners to evaluate.
“I don’t think anyone should attack anyone else,” he said. “Particularly when you have thousands of volunteer inspectors around the world who give up a lot of time. Without them, none of this would happen. It’s the part that many people forget”, he said.
“I will defend every volunteer we have on every track in the world from the fact that this is not acceptable,” he said. “The inspector acted as best he could, with the intention of keeping everyone safe, and I don’t think he should be criticized for acting on his instincts,” Masi continued.
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Furthermore, the official admitted that it was his initiative to send Horner’s statements to the commissioners, so that the Briton could be tried on the charges. “Yes, I sent the statement [de Horner] for the commissioners,” he admitted.
However, Masi took the opportunity to highlight the apology – even public – made by the head of Red Bull and even informed that Horner asked to participate in the meeting of inspectors for the 2022 season of Formula 1. It is worth remembering that the punishment cost five positions on the starting grid to Max Verstappen, who finished the Qatar GP in second position, just behind Hamilton.
“I don’t have time to look at social media before a race, but I was warned about what he had said. Christian later apologized for the comments because the fiscal’s decision was very quick. Christian didn’t want to offend anyone and apologized personally to the person who waved the flags. To defend him, Christian volunteered to come and participate in the inspectors’ seminar in 2022”, he said.
With everything resolved for the time being, the FIA director ruled out further punishment on Horner for the incident. “The warning is the punishment, and that’s what he takes: just a warning,” he concluded.
Formula 1 picks up speed again in the first weekend of December, once again in unprecedented territory in the category’s history. The Saudi Arabian GP, built in 2021 in the city of Jeddah, will host an F1 weekend for the first time in its history between the 3rd and 5th. Afterwards, there will only be the Abu Dhabi stage to close the season.
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