Horner says Red Bull was unfazed by Mercedes appeal threat


Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says his team never believed that Max Verstappen's world title would have been put in jeopardy by a potential appeal process initiated by Mercedes.

Following the outcome of last weekend's controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes protested how the race's safety car proceedings were handled by FIA race director Michael Masi.

However, the stewards rejected the Brackley squad's protest which prompted the team to consider an appeal. But Mercedes, while severely judging Masi's actions, ultimately dropped its appeal threat on Thursday.

"We didn't really feel that there were grounds for a threat," Horner admitted, speaking on Thursday evening at the FIA's prize-giving gala in Paris from which vice-champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff were conspicuously absent.

"We obviously were in front of the stewards for quite a while and, obviously, there was a great deal of discussion over what happened.

"But Safety Cars are usual in Formula 1, we've seen it throughout this season and, obviously, the determination of the Race Director is always to get the race going again.

"That's been a clear mandate for many, many years now. A lot was made of it, but that's the way it is. We've had so many decisions go against us earlier, [even] in the race."

Horner recognized that the chips had fallen the right way for Red Bull at Yas Marina.

But the Briton considered that Verstappen's lucky fate in Abu Dhabi's title decider was a pay-back of sorts and compensation for the blend of bad calls and misfortune endured by the Dutchman over the course of the season.

"We felt some of those decisions in Saudi Arabia had gone against us," he commented.

"We felt that we'd had bad luck, for example, in Imola. Lewis is in the gravel trap, out of the race, a lap down, and his teammate crashed with a Williams, he gets a lap back and he's second on the grid and he finishes second.

"The crash at Silverstone, a red flag, [Hamilton] gets a penalty, but he still wins the race with the fastest lap, so we felt that many things had gone against us this year.

"But things have a habit of working themselves out and balancing themselves over the course of the year, and I think I said on the commentary on the pit wall that the championship looked like it was gone."

Addressing the prospect of Formula 1 suppressing in-race radio communication next year between the teams' pitwalls and the race director, Horner joked that he'll perhaps rely on his direct line to the universe's omnipotent Master to get things settled in the future.

"Lewis and Mercedes had a quick package in Abu Dhabi, so it was just going to take something from the racing gods, and I'm quite pleased I've got a direct line!" he said.

"Obviously, if we're not talking to Michael [Masi] in the future, maybe I'll keep using that line!"

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