“Attack” on volunteer marshals not acceptable says Masi after Horner comments

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi strongly criticised Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s choice of words after he claimed a “rogue marshal” caused Max Verstappen to incur a penalty in Qatar.

Masi reported Horner to the stewards after learning of the comments he made on television in response to Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty.

“I was advised of them and referred Christian,” said Masi, who said Horner had been quick to retract his words when he met the stewards after the race.

“Christian was very apologetic for his comments and as part of that obviously the stewards decision was very straightforward,” said Masi. “Christian was apologetic, he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

“The person in question who was actually waving the flag has been apologised to personally and Christian, to his credit, has volunteered to come and be a part of the stewards’ seminar in 2022.”

Verstappen was penalised for failing to slow in response to a pair of yellow flags which were being waved on the pit straight where Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri came to a stop at the end of Q3. Masi pointed out the flags were being waved for reasons of safety and the marshal was “acting upon doing the best in their view in the best interests of keeping everyone safe on track.”

“And I don’t think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts,” he added.

Masi reported Horner to the stewards over “rogue marshal” claim
F1 and many other professional motorsport series rely on unpaid marshals to ensure races are held safely, Masi pointed out.

“I think you should not attack any person, 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, all of them give up a huge amount of time, and 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 around every racetrack around the world that that is not accepted.”

Horner said on Sunday evening his comments were made out of frustration over Verstappen’s penalty. “Following the penalty made this morning I made a comment on one of the broadcast channels. that I felt a ‘rogue steward’ waved the yellow flag.

“The stewards took offence to that so I just reassured them that no offence was made or intended with the individual. It was more frustration at having three or four cars pass the same car with going from no yellow flags to a double waved yellow flag. So it was an explanation of that. I think the apology was accepted.

“I’d just like to make it clear it wasn’t pointed at marshals. I think marshals do a wonderful job around the world, they’re volunteers, without marshals there would be no motorsport. So it’s just the circumstances that were frustrating. And I think there’s something that can be learned from that.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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45 comments on ““Attack” on volunteer marshals not acceptable says Masi after Horner comments”

  1. But FIA is ok with stewards being described by racist terms.

    1. Chaitanya, could you please clarify what you mean here?

      1. I’ll do it. At the 2017 United States Grand Prix, Verstappen said an offensive remark aimed at FIA steward Garry Connelly after he got a 5-second penalty for illegal overtaking.

        1. Well, what he said might be racist somewhere, but in dutch it’s pretty common

          1. He was speaking in English, not Dutch, at the time he used the same word for Stroll last year too.
            What does it say of the person who learns to swear and abuse people in their non-native tongue?
            He was reprimanded by the FIA for the steward incident but repeats the language and offence again.
            Again who does that? Seriously?

          2. Well I don’t know why Dutch language borrows that English word he used.

    2. But FIA is ok with me obliterating you constantly.

    3. F1 is really a strange “sport”BUSINESS: Billions of $ in revenues ,UNPAID ie voluntary Marshals???
      Circuits where you cannot pass on??spend a few millions to make those tracks LARGER for god sake.And hire and PAY those damn marshals.
      And I forgot:you can drive a competitor off road without penalities,with all and every media approving it.
      And then,the next weekend the benificiary of that off track push(horner)will come out to create a situation ,claiming he gets no favor from the stewards??come on.
      Finally ,you have a company,that gets 90%of the tv coverage.when the car wins,it is Red bull or Verstapen that did it.
      when the car looses it is HONDA.
      when Mercedes gets coverage on media,there is always a picture of red bull in corner.
      and if Mercedes wins,its their engine or their wing?
      Red bull wins?it is red bull ,it is verstapen’s talent.Honda?Hon who????Hon what????
      Red bull’s wing is flapping?dont worry it is Mercedes wing the problem.
      Red bull is changing wings 3 times in Park ferme?no,no,no it s Mercedes wing.
      Common guys ,lets pretend a bit there is some competition.

      Reply moderated
  2. I think marshals would rather get called “rogue” and be paid decently for their vital role at a multimillion dollar industry, rather than having niceties spoken about them and getting a pat on the back as payment. Marshals are almost as much at risk as F1 drivers, the FIA or race promoters should pay them for their services.

    1. It’s not like it’s one or the other. We can do both.

      1. Yes, both would be cool !
        Not necessarily just ordinary money — SURPRISE GIFTs would be even cooler :
        – Dinner with drivers
        – Joining team’s VIP Catering
        – items of teams: old / broken pieces / (real) apparel
        – factory tours
        – and why not sometimes also some ordinary cash, tax-free ?
        :)

  3. It was these sort of comments from drivers that in the end made me give up volunteering at motorsport events from local motorkhanas to international rallies. Sometimes things go wrong but having a go at volunteers who give up endless hours of time, and often thousands of dollars, to stand in all sorts of weather so others can enjoy their sport is just not on.

    Reply moderated
  4. The fact someone doing something voluntarily doesn’t mean you can’t criticize them. But I think it’s good Masi stands up for the marshal and that Horner cleared the air.

    1. @anunaki but it wasn’t right to criticise the flag marshal for doing his job correctly, paid or not.

      If there’s an incident, there’s a flag. That’s how it should be. It’s the flag marshal’s job to decide when to put out a yellow flag.

      I work as a volunteer at race events and have been at marshals’ briefings. They’re very much encouraged to err on the side of caution. It’s better to neutralise a session than lose a life.

      1. 100%. The marshals should wave the yellow if possible danger as not waving it could be fatal.

      2. Exactly, @gardenfella72. I am glad the Marshal did their job well and clearly signalled the danger of a car coming to a stop on the main straight.

    2. Plus, if the marshall acted based on his instincts, as pointed above, does not bode well for F1, because a mistake – honest as it might be – hugely influenced the result of the WDC.

      1. It wasn’t a mistake. There was a stopped car across from his station. Automatic flag. The end.

    3. IIRC he said he was “sorry if anyone took offence”. That’s not a real apology, it’s shuffling the blame onto the person who he attacked. “I’m sorry that you felt bad when I said what I said, you shouldn’t feel bad because I don’t think what I said was offensive, but you have my sympathy that you do feel bad about it.” At no point, in anything I’ve heard, does he take even the smallest amount of responsibility for what he said.

      1. I agree – this was NOT a real apology.

  5. Yeah, calling out a single Marshall for just doing their job to the best of their abilities – and rightly waving a flag when there is a car stranded on the long and fast straight – really takes the bad language flying around to a place it shouldn’t have gone.

    I think there is a LOT to be worried about in Stewarding and race controls handling of quite a lot of stuff this year. Both Red Bull (almost calling Silverstone murder and Max suddenly feeling he never gets a break when he was let off scot free last time) and Mercedes (signalling intent with Verstappen in Monza and some of the overreacting in Brazil) as well as say an Alonso – who critisized for being let off the hook for first lap incidents when other had also been let off the hook for the same? – have made it almost normal to escalate things verbally just like we see only too often in the world around sports.

    The FIA has a lot to answer for though, from the sheer inconsistency, lack of transparency, endless wishy washy there and back again over track limits and whether drivers should just race or should actually stay on track and not force others off that track (the white lines, remember) while doing so.

    Well and I do think Mercedes has a point questioning why they were disqualified when the issue with their rear wing was clearly a failure of a part when others have been repairing those same parts over and over again with the OK of the FIA. As have the drivers now saying they will probably be starting to push others off track in defence of their positions just like Max did.

    But really, I guess that whole circus of over the top “emotional” language does feed a lot of airtime and a lot of lines of articles for some.

    1. @bascb Great write up. Completely agree.

  6. Horner being his usual toxic self.

    This is just another in a long line of offhand malicious comments he has made while pretending it’s just a joke.

    1. I have a term for it:

      Red Bull5h1t

    2. Noob Bulls would be more fitting.

  7. Horner can’t even make proper apology. The decency level in the top tiers of RedBull have markedly declined since Jos Verstappen glowered around that garage. I can only wonder what effect he has had on his son growing up.

    1. PAUL VICTOR GODDARD
      22nd November 2021, 13:37

      An enormous effect!! Chip off the old block unfortunately!! FIA need to clarify the situation in respect of events such as MV going wide and causing LH to go wide off of the track to avoid a collision which could have had a massive effect on the championship. MV is a massive accident/tragedy waiting to happen. JV ought to be sanctioned for his accusations about some competitors!! I don’t recall Mercedes whingeing about the Red Bull being faster than Mercedes in previous races. It appears that they got on with the job of increasing their speed. Red Bull are desperate to try any means to discredit Mercedes.

      Reply moderated
  8. Should’ve fined him.

  9. Fi is valued a billions, teams expect their value to increase to a billion, drivers are paid millions and yet stewards are volunteers.

    Seems to mimic to model that Qatar is using for the world cup.

    1. well to be fair, if there was a Grand Prix in my country i sure as hell would volunteer, it would be a really cool experience… in my opinion

      1. Yes, but would you enjoy being berated unfairly by a disgruntled team principal?

        Marshalls should receive some cash and other incentives for their work.

        Reply moderated
  10. Karen@RBR just the usual gobbing off.
    (Now you know where his pet, Vera Slapem get his mouthy bs from.)
    He should have had a massive fine & minimum 1 race ban.

    1. Toxicity breads toxicity. It looks like Marko is a perfect match for Max, and Horner has become Marko.

      Reply moderated
  11. It is ridiculous that at the level of F1 the marshalls are not paid. One look around the paddock tells you all you need to know about the money involved. They could easily pay these guys. I understand how at lower levels and club racing you need volunteers but in a billion dollar industry like F1 pay these people. Jeez

    Reply moderated
  12. Here we have a multi billion dollar industry. These races would not happen without the volunteers? How many marshal’s are at a track? On average. I’d like to know. They give up all of their time for free so others can bath in their profits from F1? Capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich. I get it. Silly me. How much does Hamilton earn for example? $30,000,000? More? That’s just one man in this traveling show. F1 would not happen without the volunteer marshal’s? I doubt that to be true indeed. Maybe pay them? Or not? I bet someone will tell me that it just can’t happen. Really? How many at each track? Maybe Hamilton could pay them something himself? 20,000 Marshal’s x $100 = $2,000,000. No way could that happen. Lewis himself could not afford that! 5,000 Marshal’s x $400 = $2,000,000. How many Marshal’s are there? I’d love to know. Then I could do the numbers and see if what Masi is saying is true or not. Capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich I think is the case here.

  13. Worse and worst Christian Horner has become. So many reports, retorts, made-up stuff rolling off of his foul tongue daily and for years. His language is odorous, impure, dishonest, wretched, treacherous and simply dishonorable towards Formula 1, even to himself.

    Over the years many Team Principals have been constructive leaders, fine communicators, even when they disagree with FIA, other teams and anything they do not like. But, they can speak out as a worthy human being.

    Without any hatred towards Mr. Horner, I hope he can become a better leader and using logical communication towards the rest of our world.

  14. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    22nd November 2021, 23:09

    The discourse turning into paid v volunteer marshals conveniently circumvents the point that Horner shouldn’t have said those comments.

    One could attack the marshal’s decision, but that person is most likely criticising the decision from the perspective of a Red Bull/Verstappen supporter.

    1. @imabouttogoham And how can you even argue with a double waved yellow flag when a car is parked on the track?

      What bothers me about the whole thing is why it took so long to decide on the penalties. All the stewards need to do is check if the drivers slowed down sufficiently. If they did then ok, if not then penalty.

      It’s just like the daft way they penalized Mercedes/Hamilton for a broken rear wing/DRS system not passing scrutineering. Normally the teams gets the chance to fix the broken part, the test is repeated and done. Now they were discussing forever. What is there to discuss? Just apply the rules already.

      Same with Silverstone really. Hamilton is alongside, should be given space. Verstappen turns sharply in nonetheless. Racing incident every (non Red Bull) driver says, but Hamilton gets penalized for “not hitting the apex”. Since when has that been part of the rules? Then when Verstappen later in Brazil doesn’t hit the apex and doesn’t even make the turn by a long way, this new rule is instantly forgotten again. Although in Brazil a Red Bull driver was steward which might warp decisions, but by that much?

      Just stick to the actual rules and apply those consistently. Not everything needs to be interpreted differently for whatever agenda “they” feel needs to be pushed, because then we keep getting these messes.

  15. I listened to Horner’s chat with the C4 team.

    Firstly he was apologetic about his slur on the marshal, those who doubt his sincerity are simply haters for whom nothing will suffice, too much of that around these days in all walks of life.

    Secondly he spoke of the system that flags up a caution light on the drivers display, in this instance it didn’t warn of the yellow flag on Verstappen’s dash. As I understand it, the flag itself was the final arbiter for the penalty, it therefore makes the in-car warning a further distraction from looking out for flags. It is this conflict that Horner said needs sorting. If true I agree.

    I’ve not gone trawling through the sporting regs to confirm this, merely reporting what I heard Christian say, feel free to to point out any errors.

    Reply moderated
  16. I fully agree with Masi’s supportive stance of hardworking volunteers. But Masi should also be critical of himself considering the penalty inconsistencies we saw this season and big sham that the Belgian Grand Prix was (I don’t mean not running the race, but awarding points).

  17. Nice and respectful treatment would be cultivated.
    Not necessarily just ordinary money — SURPRISE GIFTs would be even cooler :
    – Dinner with drivers
    – Joining team’s VIP Catering
    – items of teams: old / broken pieces / (real) apparel
    – factory tours
    – and why not sometimes also some ordinary cash, tax-free ?
    :)

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