Horner blames “rogue marshal” after Verstappen suffers penalty blow

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said a “rogue marshal” has delivered a massive blow to Max Verstappen’s championship chances after his driver was handed a grid penalty for the Qatar Grand Prix.

Verstappen originally qualified second on the grid alongside pole-winning championship rival Lewis Hamilton. However he has been relegated to seventh after receiving a five-place grid drop for failing to respond to double waved yellow flags.

The incident occured after Pierre Gasly stopped by the side of the track, triggering yellow flags. Race control then decided to cancel the yellow flags. The electronic systems were duly cancelled, but flag marshals opposite Gasly’s stationary car continued to wave their flags.

When Verstappen passed the scene, double yellow flags were being waved. By the time Valtteri Bottas passed the scene a single yellow flag was being waved. Bottas was given a three-place grid drop.

Horner was unimpressed by the decision to penalise his driver. “I think it’s just a rogue marshal that’s stuck a flag out and he’s not been instructed to by the FIA,” he told Sky. “They’ve got to have control of their marshals, it’s as simple as that because that’s a crucial blow in this world championship for us. 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’, effectively, by turning off the yellow,” Horner added. “So all the GPS, all the signals that we have saying ‘track is safe’, even the slippery surface is gone so there’s nothing to communicate to the driver.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr was cleared of the same infringement after initially failing to slow for the yellow flags, then backed off when he saw Gasly’s car.

“The other one I really don’t understand is Carlos Sainz,” said Horner. “He’s done exactly the same thing, he hasn’t seen it and driven straight past, gone past with DRS open, fully planted, and he’s lifted about 10 metres before the line and that’s okay.”

The Red Bull boss called for changes to how F1’s warning flags are managed following the incident. “I think there needs to be some grown-ups making grown-up decisions,” he said. “Just having binary, somebody sticks a yellow flag out, it’s just frustrating.

“I think the race director should have control of the circuit. He’s the referee at the end of the day and otherwise anybody, you get a marshal that decides to stick a yellow flag out, how does that work?”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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60 comments on “Horner blames “rogue marshal” after Verstappen suffers penalty blow”

  1. What? There’s a stopped car on track and you think it’s fine? FIA were silly to cancel the yellows… only this marshal did his job well. Who cares that you’re starting 7th, driver safety doesn’t care about that. And I doubt Sainz did the same thing. Article says he backed off when he saw the car but Horner says 10meters before the line which is way past stopped car. Which is it? In any case, why does it matter if Sainz didn’t get it, Max clearly deserved it.

    1. Who can tell if Max could have picked up some carbon fibre and had a blow out at top speed crashing into Gasly’s car. I don’t understand this new RACE CONTROL

      1. I’m surprised nobody is questioning this decision to cancel yellow flags when the car is stopped on fastest part of the track.

        1. Yeah, the ‘rogue’ marshall seems to have been doing his or her job a lot better than race control there @ivan-vinitskyy; and for Horner to go blame it on a volunteer safety marshall rather than his own super driver, really sinking low.

          1. Unacceptable that one of the most visible faces of the sport would put the blame on a volunteer like that. Horner needs to learn to zip it from time to time.

        2. Yes, I agree. I concede we don’t know the context of Christian Horner’s comment because it might have been a passing comment and he didn’t intend it to be take seriously, or it might be he was very vocal about this. He is in a position to make things difficult for that marshal, who is unpaid and was doing their job correctly. It seemed to me the problem wasn’t actually that marshall but the problem stemmed from Race Control, who couldn’t make a decision.
          We don’t know why Michael cancelled the Yellow Flags because there was a damaged slow moving car on the track. In fact when I was watching that part of Qualifying I was surprised at the ambiguous messages being given out by Race Control. The Yellow Flag was being activated, then seconds later turned off, then seconds later activated, then seconds later turned off, etc. How are drivers supposed to know whether the are allowed to continue with their Hot Lap or not? Mercedes sent out Lewis earlier because they were worried about the potential of a Yellow Flag event interfering with his lap time, and Red Bull could have done the same.

    2. If the yellow flags were cancelled, Max is not to be blamed. Race control should not have cancelled the yellow flag, but drivers can’t be blamed. I wonder if the stewards are trying to appease Toto Wolff. Masi has no place in F1.

      1. What are you talking about, flags on track are the ultimate signals, not race control’s opinion / intention. If race controls don’t withdraw them in time then it only means it’s still a yellow sector, despite what the computer may be saying.

        1. @ivan-vinitskyy
          if it was a main redbul car, it would be parked right at the centerline parallel to start finish to make sure safety is utmost priority :)

          since it was their side kick team, they didnt complain much about the car itself, god forbid if it was car of bottas :) redbul and fia would hire a private detective and check bottas’ psychiatrists to check his childhood dreams to prove he did it on purpose!

      2. PT, it looks like the yellow flags were never fully withdrawn – if you look at the instructions that race control was giving to the teams, it looks like they were telling the teams that there was a moving yellow flag zone around the circuit, with yellow flags being flown at each marshal post that Gasly was passing and then being substituted with a white flag to show there was a slow moving car ahead after Gasly had passed them.

        The TV graphics were not fully in sync with what race control was actually telling the teams – the communications from race control was firstly “yellow flag in sector 18”, where Gasly had his puncture and then slowed. As he continued to drive round the lap, the message was issued “sector 18 now clear”, followed by “yellow flag in sector 20”, which is where Gasly had moved to.

        At no point did race control say “the whole track is clear” – they started flying a yellow flag when Gasly first hit issues, then as he continued moving round the track, they replaced the old message of where the yellow flag was first shown with a second message that gave the teams the updated position of the yellow flag. I can see why it caused confusion, but at the same time it looks like they were trying to get the yellow flag zone to track Gasly, and thus I don’t think it was ever technically fully withdrawn.

    3. The main question remains, why did the Marshal wave yellow flags for everyone except for Max Verstappen for which he waved double yellow.

    4. First time i saw the flags i thought in was before the last corner but waved is waved but the point is why didn’t they wave after Max past (double) and after certain time they stopped waving that is the bad point here. For safety they should wave double untill the end.

  2. Horner is utter disgrace. He should be banned from F1 just as Flavio Briatore!

    1. Agreed. Yellow flags are one if the most basic rule, there is not debate penalty was needed. Always the first to play the blame game… Once in while, recognising a mistake also help to build credibility, Horner…

      1. He said too much over the years for any chance of recovery. He isn’t driving but it very often feels like he… I may expect it from drivers but team principal must be more measured. I can only imagine whats going on inside the team.

    2. Oh wow what a suprise that everyone on racefans comment section is pro mercedes/hamilton, never seen that before… I guess thats what happens when the site is filled with brits.

      1. yeah man, the car parked in the straight is just a detail. No one was ever penalized because of that right?

        When people are so fanatic and blind to the point they dont understand that safety always come first, not the interests of their favourite driver, all that’s left is to write nonsense.

        i’m talking about you by the way.

        1. Well if saftey is the most important thing then they shouldnt drive at all should they? There must be a balance in racing and i think they have been a little too happy to wave double yellows in this season.

          1. You’re not thinking. You’re just being a Muppet. There’s no ambiguity here to discuss, safety comes first. Marshall has the right to wave flags if they see danger on track. Horner apologised already.

      2. Lol a British site filled with Brits – that’s a scandal lol. However if there are double yellow flags being waved, then there are double yellow flags being waved, not seeing them is not an excuse – it never has been. Same rule for everyone – at last some stewarding consistency!

    3. History in the making, lads.

  3. Horner has one or two good points. But slating a volunteer marshall for waiving double yellows with a stricken car parked on the track might be a new low in his and Wollf’s race to the bottom. After Wolff swearing into a live camera last week, Horner was like hold my beer y’all. Two more races to go! Still time for metal folding chairs in the interview room!

  4. Decent whinge but still disappointed. I was hoping for “We got Gasly’d” this time.

  5. This conveniently makes up for the “wrong” decision last race, and “helps” the chances of the championship going down to the final race, with Lewis winning by a whisker. Everyone goes home happy. Or something.

    1. Yeah I guess Mercedes has great connections In Quatar

    2. no it doesn’t. He should’ve got both. They didn’t made this out of thin air. It is within the rules and Verstappen himself already had it in the past, as hamilton, vettel and others.

  6. Race control then decided to cancel the yellow flags

    Are the children not watching anymore.

  7. I was wondering why did the yellow’s get rescinded? It was not a glitch. Race direction at it again.
    Sure we all want to see qualifying end without the flags however race direction can’t assure the teams that all is fine and then penalize the drivers. I disagree with Horner on this, the decision should be binary, if race direction was happy with the safety then overrule the marshall posts, if you cannot do that then don’t penalize some drivers for your mistakes.

    1. So the next time you see yellow flags or red flags you have to find out first if it’s a mistake or not before you slow down? Whatever happened to common sense.

      1. Yeah, very bad from a safety perspective.

        In my view, double waved yellows have to mean driver reacts by abandoning lap, they have to trust the marshals to do their job.

        And Horner blaming the one person doing what they should have been doing. Man, this team really makes it hard to support them.

        1. Horner should blame Race control not the marshall.

        2. I heard that Gasly was still moving at thet point that should be no yellow flags that is the case here. Still if flags were waved you have to react to that.

  8. Horner has valid points about the management, but Hamilton was also penalized for not seeing yellow flags through a mist of dust. Either you put the yellow flag or just keep it on green. Don’t put yellow flags then a second later, green then a second later yellow. FIA needs to really manage this better. But Verstappen and Bottas were silly, knowing how these situations have been treated. At the same time, race control’s decision to cancel yellow flags is crazy.

  9. Horner is the biggest whiner in F1, by far. Pushing the blame onto an unpaid volunteer marshal, who is just trying to do his job, in the name of safety, mind you, as he was trained. Pathetic. What “leadership”. Team Red Bull never takes responsibility for anything, it’s always someone else’s fault….this time they’re blaming a volunteer. Right. The blame belongs with the FIA…even for Horner, this is low. No class. At all.

  10. Horner is comedy gold. He’s becoming the Donald Trump of F1.

    Clearly I should have blamed the technician who set up the speed cameras wrong, when I fell foul of our local driving regulations.

  11. Other way round…. Max was already 2nd, and (should have) been aware he would not make up 4 tenth. Better be cautious in those circumstances (like Saint apparently did). Don’t blame the trackside marshals Horner.

    1. So they could have cancelled the last lap as there was no danger, race control decided that and just one Marshall forgot to stop waving the flag… in this scenario it would have made more sense. Now it looks a lot like they played a nasty game with Max and got him good..

  12. He simply cannot bring himself to admit that Max made a mistake, or broke a rule – same as Max himself.
    Together, they will properly hurt someone one day.

    Mark my words.

  13. I totally support Horner on this. The rogue Marshal was supposed to wave a rainbow flag.

  14. It is the Marshall’s fault for waving the flag, not my driver’s fault for not following the flags… Good to see the stewards have half a brain this weekend at least.

  15. Going by all what has witnessed lately, I can’t now rule out a well timed safety car or the virtual equivalent to remove and niddle and some hay to make it convenient for some driver to gain position.

  16. Horner should quite digging.

    The real question now is will Bottas finish ahead of Verstappen, or will he just let him through….

    As i’ve said before Bottas has a chance of making history with Hamilton for the most podiums by the same partnership. eg the Greatest #2 of all times. Will he or wont he drive for that final accolade?

    1. spoke too soon, Bottas 2 laps into the race presently in 11th place. Clearly doing his bit for the Redbull championship. I just hope he drives to the car’s potential and get closer to that podium :-(

      1. lap 15 . Bottas, to give him credit, is now in 7th. Perez is 5th.

        1. lap 23 Bottas 4th hasn’t pitted, Perez on a 2 stop, pitted early , now in 11th place.

          1. lap 25 Bottas in 3rd, still hasn’t pitted, perez 10th.

  17. lap 34 , Bottas tire fails on his way to his first pit stop, he should have pitted 2 laps earlier when Alonzo and perez were scrapping. Bottas now 14th after front wing also needed to be changed , perez 3rd with a second pit stop to come.

  18. lap 43 , bottas 12th, with perez 7th after second pit stop

  19. lap 50 , Bottas 12th, perez 5th

  20. Lap 51 Bottas retires

  21. As usual from Horner Max can do no wrong, its always someone else’s fault….

  22. I blame it on a ‘rogue driver’ who thought he knew better and chose to ignore double waved yellow flags.

  23. Last year Hamilton and Giovinazzi failed to notice that the pit lane was closed in Monza.
    Now we have 3 drivers not noticing the yellow flags.

    I think that drivers rely too much on the info given to them by their teams. This is becoming a safety concern.

  24. Its interesting how no one is addressing the elephant in the room, which is, why did Race Control say the track was green when there was a car stopping on track?

    What are drivers supposed to follow? Flags, LED Indicators? Both? Or are they supposed to judge the situation on a case by case basis?

    This is a pretty easy clarification, what do the rules say?

    1. The rules have been spelt out in the Decision Doc that was issued re Max and Bottas that has been posted all over the internet.
      Never thought that choosing to ignore a yellow was a subject of debate.
      Although to be fair, before today I never thought that marshals were fair game.

    2. Flags has first dibs they should react to flags always. Problem here was Gasly was still moving then it should be no flags untill he stops.

  25. I mean… if you’re a marshal and have a broken car stopped in front of you, you’re not going to be listening to confirmation from race control whether you should keep waving a yellow flag, are you? Since when was that a thing? I can appreciate Horner’s frustration having been told one thing by race control, but this is simply not on the track workers, his frustration should be directed elsewhere.

    Pretty bad precedent set today. So now a stopped car on track may or may not amount to a yellow flag. Crazy stuff.

  26. *british bloke yells at racing organization*

  27. Can someone explain the marshal role. If they witness a incident do they wave yellow flags at there discretion or is it from race control?

    1. Marshalls validate themselfs the incident as they warn race control.

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