Masi: Horner's personal attack on marshals was 'not acceptable'


FIA race director Michael Masi justified the official warning levied upon Christian Horner in Qatar by the unacceptable nature of the Red Bull team principal's criticism of the marshals' work.

Horner was summoned to the Qatar Grand Prix stewards' following his public criticism of the latter's decision to penalize Max Verstappen, as well as Valtteri Bottas, for ignoring a yellow-flag warning in Saturday's qualifying session that was signaled to drivers after Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri had grounded to a halt on the side of the track.

Horner blamed "a rogue marshal" for deploying the flags, and suggested that the FIA needs to have "better control of their marshals", adding that there "needs to be some grown-up decisions made by grown-ups".

Horner's comments were followed by vitriolic remarks by Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko who told DAZN:

"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."

However, only Horner - in his capacity as team principal - was held accountable for his comments. The Briton apologized for his words, insisting they had been made "under the pressure of competition", and was handed an official warning by F1's governing body.


But Masi defended the marshals handling of the yellow flag deployment in qualifying, insisting that Horner's comments were uncalled for.

"I think you should not attack any person," he said. "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].

"All of them give up a huge amount of time. Without them, it won’t happen. That’s the part that a lot of people miss.

"And I will defend every volunteer official and every official at every racetrack around the world, that [such criticism] is not accepted."

Read also: Horner handed 'official warning' by FIA for 'rogue marshal' comment

Masi made clear that the trackside marshals, not race control, are ultimately responsible for deciding when a yellow flag or double yellows are to be brandished.

"With all yellow flags that are displayed from trackside, they’re in the hands of the officials’ control as they are at every venue anywhere," said the Aussie.

"And if they deem that it’s a single or a double, it’s up to those officials to determine that. And they judge what they see before them."

Masi saw no error on the part of the marshals regarding either the procedure or the timing involving the activation of the yellow flag warning in the sector where Gasly's car was stranded.

"What the locals did, they reacted to the situation before them," he insisted. "And that’s plain and simple.

"If you have a look at what was there and what was happening and with everything with Pierre’s car, they acted upon instinct for what was before them.”

"They acted in the best interest of keeping everyone safe on track. And I don’t think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts."

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