Horner rejects talk of title fight pressure after criticism over marshal comment

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner rebuffed suggestions the pressures of the championship fight are taking a toll on him after he was formally warned for criticising a marshal in Qatar.

Horner apologised after accusing a “rogue marshal” of displaying yellow flags in reaction to a stationary car at the end of qualifying at the Losail International Circuit.

The incident led to Max Verstappen receiving a five-place grid penalty. He lost more ground to championship rival Lewis Hamilton in the race, leaving the pair separated by eight points with two races to go.

Horner was also involved in a terse press conference with his opposite number at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, on Friday, during which the Red Bull team principal commented: “I don’t need to go to dinner with Toto, I don’t need to kiss his arse or anything like that, though there are a few other team principals that might.”

However Horner insisted he is not feeling under greater pressure amid the increasingly tense fight between Red Bull and Mercedes. “No, not at all,” he stated after Sunday’s race when asked about his comments on the marshal. “I think everybody has a right to an opinion. I gave an opinion.”

He said he had no regrets over his conduct and comments over the race weekend. “I believe in my team. I’m a straight talker. I’ve always conducted myself in that manner.

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“I’m not an overly emotional person. I don’t rant at cameras. I think the way I’ve conducted myself I’ve got no issues with, I’d do exactly the same.

“The only issue was regarding any marshal is that if there was any personal offence taken for referencing a rogue yellow flag was not intended as any individual or the marshal. I don’t think it was unreasonable.”

However McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes some of the rhetoric from the title contenders has become too heated.

“I can only speak for myself, but if you watch everything which is ongoing at the moment, it is clear obviously there’s a lot at stake and it’s different to, say, the battles we are all in further back.

“Which is obviously great to a certain degree for the fans, for the show, in the end it should be entertainment as well. But I definitely think that some of the comments we’ve seen in recent weeks is definitely not something I could image would come from us in such a situation.

“It’s very important – it doesn’t matter if you fight for wins or if you are last – that you always keep your respect up for your competitors, for FIA, for Formula 1. We are all in this together this and it’s important to keep the respect up for the volunteers out there that help us in the end to do these race weekends.”

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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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
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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51 comments on “Horner rejects talk of title fight pressure after criticism over marshal comment”

  1. I wonder at what point in time, the Red Bull team owner will realise that Horner is giving his team the most negative publicity. I think the primary reason that people dislike Red Bull its the combination of Horner and Marko at the helm.

    1. I’ve said this before, I wonder whether it isn’t the other way around. I mean RedBulls brand values include things like being disruptive. Going the extra mile etc. So it is not so unfitting at all. Toto within the ecosystem of Mercedes however I really don’t understand. I am yet to see the survey but besides the UK you cannot tell me the brand preference for Mercedes has grown this year based on the on track actions of Lewis and moreover the off track shady political angle and mis behavior of Toto. Toto indicated clearly that he feels all is allowed to win the championship and he feels off track antics are a big part of that. Must be a cultural thing because with me sport is sport. Where I am from it is a sign of weakness if you cant do it on the field/on the track alone. It’s like in tennis when you make an unforced error and your opponent celebrates this. So my guess is the ownership structure (Toto owning at least 1/3) prevents Mercedes from kicking him out. Because knowing the Mercedes corporate culture this does not go down well, I can assure you that.

      1. Honestly.. Mercedes’ highest priority is to win. That’s their greatest addition to brand value .. and Toto has done it better than any other team principal in the history of the sport. He hasn’t done it by cheating.. (like Ferrari tried in 2018 and 2019) and he hasn’t done it by the FIA making regulatory changes made to favour them (like Red Bull has had this year). For me, history will remember Mercedes’ F1 team as just demolishing competition by being head and shoulders above the rest in every facet of building a team and a car. Their illegal 2013 tyre test is probably the only blemish in their otherwise, clean record.

        On the other hand, you have Horner. Who has failed to mount a serious championship challenge since 2013. Over the past 8 seasons, he’s brought a leading car manufacturer in disrepute (Renault). The same manufacturer he won 4 back to back titles with. Horner has treated drivers like his own play toys, especially Kvyat and Gasly. In fact him and Marko have gotten the Red Bull driver program in much disrepute by the way they’ve handled drivers. They’ve got a culture of whining and hypocrisy, as shown by their pushing for a Hamilton penalty after the British GP even after he received in the race. Then they make a cute “Let them race comment” in Brazil when Max actually deserved a penalty. They then go on to insult Marshalls at the following race.

        Honestly, if I was a top team owner. I much rather have a Toto running my team than Horner.

        1. You’ve mentioned negative after negative for Horner but it seems to be only looking at one side… They were dominant prior to 2014 and from then on, no-one was able to get close to Mercedes. They did have issues with Renault but it’s also fair to say that with a Renault PU in the back of the car, they didn’t stand a chance of competing with Mercedes even if they had a faster car… The engine was not reliable, it was too slow and it didn’t seem to be improving.

          They moved to Honda which wasn’t a good engine either at the time but they’ve managed to work with them in a way that McLaren failed to do in order to push them forward and are now the only other team throughout this entire era of F1 to have managed to push Mercedes to the end of the season in a title fight.

          It’s fair to say that Kvyat and Gasly weren’t treated great but then look at Russell who has spent years sat in the slowest car on the grid because they didn’t want someone better than Bottas in the 2nd car – they wanted an easy number 1/number 2 set up in the team because if Russell was there, they would have had a lot more headaches during the years where Hamilton was cruising to uncontested title wins.

          I’m not defending Horner here – I agree with most of the points you made however it’s disingenuous to say that Horner is this horrible, lying, cheating man who destroys Red Bull’s image and yet Toto is a saint.. You say Toto hasn’t won by getting regulatory changes in his favour – what about Red Bull’s wings, the new tyres we had this year, being allowed to keep DAS for a whole season and so on…. They’ve questioned the legality of other cars as much as other teams have as that’s part of the sport.

          I think both Toto and Horner do plenty of teams to paint their teams in a bad light but ultimately, between them, they have been responsible for 100% of driver and constructors titles for the past decade and here we are in the 11th season and it’s Toto vs Horner again…

          1. If it wasn’t for Brawn F1 not having any money for development, the 2010-2013 era could have also been won by the Brackley team

          2. One thing regarding Russell/Bottas that has to be kept in mind is that Bottas more often than not delivers the results that Mercedes needs. They don’t (or didn’t) need Bottas to be a challenger for WDC, nor to challenge Hamilton to keep Fans™ interested. It was all about consistent top results, and he was able to do that. On the other hand, Bottas isn’t the type of guy to bring the hard fight if he doesn’t qualify well (which he’s a respectable qualifier). Russell is in play to succeed Hamilton when he decides to switch teams or retire altogether. Unfortunately, that didn’t leave room for Bottas in the picture. Only time will tell if Russell will live up to the hype.

        2. @todfod
          I’m sure you will change your mind once you will do a quick research about how Toto got into the sport and with whom he has dealt with to broker the deal of buying his initial stake at Williams. Besides, Toto started his involved at Mercedes in the early 2013 as an executive director owning 30% of the F1.

          Since their return, Mercedes were preparing for the 2014 rule change that was intended for the 2013 season and have already recruited hundreds of engineers and dozens of technical directors (Bob Bell, Aldo Costa, Paddy Lowe,Geoff Willis…).

          They have had already a jump start over the competition with regard to hybrid rules. It was rumoured that the decisive input came from Brawn in the workshops between the teams and the FIA but this is subjective. The fact is that Daimler owned 10% of Tesla between 2007 and 2014 and they certainly didn’t lack knowledge in the hybrid department.

          Moreover, the stupid token system which was scrapped in 2017 meant that nobody has been able to challenge them in those years. The 2019 front wing rule change which was meant to reduce turbulence and cut downforce has taken an advantage RBR and Ferrari had over Mercedes with their front wing designs. The harder stiffer tyres that Pirelli kept introducing mid-season since 2019 were only beneficial for Mercedes. So it’s not safe to say that the FIA didn’t do them any favour of course without mentioning the TestGate.

          In 2013, Mercedes started the season with the outright fastest car though it was a tyre eater. Lewis and Nico have 8 pole positions in the first 11 races while Vettel got 3 poles. Mercedes gave up the development of their car that year to focus on 2014 and RBR kept pushing to the last race.

          In 2013, Mercedes was already a well structured winning team thanks to Ross Brawn input ( arguably one of the best technical director in the history of the sport) and the infinite backing of their parent company Daimler. Also, the decision to recruit Hamilton and the effort made to convince him to join were the work of Niki Lauda (RIP).

          Take nothing from Wolff who is an excellent politician and plays the off track game very well but you seem to give him too much credit than what he actually deserves by attributing Mercedes success to him and at the same time denigrating Horner and especially Marko who helped build RBR into the championship winning team that they are now.

          Marko may be a troll at times and an unlikable character but he was a successful sportscar racer at times when sportscar racing was more popular than F1. He is one of the few drivers that also has a respectable academic record (Jonathan Palmer is the other one that springs to my mind). I doubt that if Wolff was in charge at RBR, we would have seen drivers like Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen… made it to F1.

      2. As the article is about Horner what does it matter what Toto is or insn’t doint that you think is upseeting the parent company?

        Where does the article paint Toto as a saint?

    2. Not sure if Dietrich Mateschitz cares about the bad publicity, he only wants to see the results. And although controversial and downright obnoxious, Horner delivered the most with what he had, winning 4 championships pre-turbo era and being the closest challenger these past few years, with a budget ~25% smaller than Mercedes and Ferrari.

      I’ve had bosses in my career who were universally liked but too moderate in getting the team’s back. Others frequently crossed the line when fighting for our unit, to the point of being really disliked by other departments. Honestly, I rather prefer the latter approach, as it boost morale and unity for the team, and results showed.

  2. This is funny. A toll on him? On Toto you mean. Christian has always been like this. Remember his relation with Abiteboul? Toto on the other hand, as well as Lewis, really showed their personality under pressure this year. And wow, how they cracked
    Very surprising since they came from 8 years full blown dominance. You would expect that to give them some confidence and class. Yet at the slightest signs of 1 single car being able to play catch up, they threw everything at it. Shady off and on track antics, the works. Not graceful, but very unsportsmanlike.

    1. This article is about Horner and Redbull. How much do you hate Merc and Hamilton?

      1. I think it’s probably due to how much press is made of Horner’s attitude problems as if Lewis and Toto don’t, when they all really are just as bad

      2. Just trying to bring some balance to the constant RedBull & Max bashing on this colored site that keeps on falling further down the Mercedes narrative rabbit hole. Actively supporting their propaganda and so incredibly obvious too.

    2. It’s deeply disappointing, yet sadly predictable, that you seem to effectively condone Horner’s decision to lash out at the marshal for doing their job by instead engaging in a distraction campaign.

      What Horner was doing, and is continuing to do here with his snide criticism, is really not acceptable, as he is taking advantage of his position of power to lash out at those who don’t have the ability to fight back.

      Answer, plain and simply – do you consider think that Horner is behaving in an acceptable manner? We don’t care what you think about Wolff and Mercedes, and any attempt by you to go off on that sort of rant will be seen as deliberate trolling.

      1. Yes, Horners behavior is unacceptable, I agree. Something noticed & mentioned already in the Renault years. Just bored of this site being so one sided ALL the time and actively contributing to the Mercedes narrative. Please have a mind of your own all, you are being fed.

    3. Can you explain “how they cracked”?

      1. The constant lying. The suggestions of fraud after the new Honda engine. The fact that under toto merc even tried an illegal wing configuration. The same flexibel wing they now seem to use but at red bull was not allowed. Using engines for performance gains and not because they are damaged or broken.
        The Mercedes brand gets tainted a lot.

        1. What has any of that to do with the article on Horner and the marshal comment?

        2. What “constant lying”?

          And how is swapping engines a sign of “cracking”?? Sounds like a brilliant idea to me – I do the same on my PS4. Is it because this has well and truly pulled the rug from under RB you mean.

          The rest is just laughable baloney, which only goes to show how much you dislike Merc.

          If “The same flexibel wing they now seem to use but at red bull was not allowed” is true – why on earth aren’t Ferrari (who were more less shopped by Toto back in 2019 for that engine) protesting etc.

          Come to think about it, why is it only RB that have a problem with the Merc rear ring.

          Face it. Horner is an outlier, because he thinks of nothing further that what benefits his team. He thinks 100% RB. The other chiefs simply don’t – they allow 10% of their character to think about the good of the sport.

          Take Wolf last year on the Honda engine issue RB had……..

          Wolff said: “I think Formula 1 is in a good state with three engine suppliers, but if you can keep four [it is better].

          “And I totally understand where Red Bull is coming from, they don’t want to go back to a customer status, they want to be a works team.

          Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Portuguese Grand Prix Qualifying Day Portimao, Portugal

          “They have the capability of tweaking it and maybe optimising it and maybe there is a few things in the pipeline from Honda that are giving them confidence that there is more performance in the engine.

          “But I think we should be doing everything to give Red Bull that opportunity.”

          Let’s see what the rest think!!

          If Horner was in the same situation would he say;-

          1 – It’s their problem
          or
          2 – We should be doing everything to give Mercedes that opportunity

          He’s the Eddie Jones of F1, but without the humour and twinkle in his eye.

          1. It’s always good to see how people invent quotes to camouflage their lack of arguments.

          2. Reply for @erikje:

            Here is one the sources of the quotes @banbrorace used: https://the-race.com/formula-1/wolff-f1-must-do-everything-to-give-red-bull-works-engines/. These quotes are easy to find on many websites. Why? Because it is what Toto Wolf said.

            You can deny the truth all you like, that will not change what the truth is.

          3. Erikje accusing a well argued post of no arguments, to avoid having to present arguments.

            I don’t know why I’m surprised, it’s kinda standard by now. Like the accusing everyone else of being toxic a few minutes after throwing bile at Merc and Hamilton.

          4. Bottom line is they are being dishonest and heavily rely on politics to win what should be a sport and not a corporate game.

        3. And the on track errors Lewis made this year, but got away with somehow

          1. RE: Mayrton “to win what should be a sport and not a corporate game.”
            Come on love grow up.. When corporation’s are spending hundreds of millions of dollars per anum, it’s very much is a corporate game of entertainment…

            Then who was talking about Lewis and Toto “cracking” did you watch different races when the last two grand Prix’s were on?

          2. I know, I know but always hope the majority gets done on track. This year was just too much, especially after they’ve already been so dominant for so long. And indeed no cracking the last two races. Why would they? They clearly found a competitive edge in the car and finally realised it was themselves holding them back. Don’t focus on Max, just focus on yourselves. Also Lewis seems to understand Max better now. The approach taken on Rosberg just didn’t work on Max. All you have to do is project strength and focus on yourself.

  3. I think the way I’ve conducted myself I’ve got no issues with, I’d do exactly the same.

    Horner using himself as a parameter for his own behaviour, genius, explains his depths of self-insight. /s

  4. I’m a straight talker.

    Often said by people who are rude and abusive.

  5. Ha! Good choice of a cover picture. The white hair, unshaven look, creased forehead. No pressure, you say Christian? :)

    1. He looks like he’s smiling, so it’s a ludicrously failed attempt to fit your views in a picture.

  6. I’m a straight talker says the man who has spent the last week twisting himself up like a pretzel to bury the term ‘rogue marshal’. I see the latest iteration is ‘rogue yellow flag’.
    Did it wave itself?

    1. I’m not a native English speaker. I’m curious to know what your first association with “rogue” is.
      For me it describes someone who starts doing things on his own and without instruction or permission.
      Is there more to it? Because that’s not really that bad… and pretty accurate as well.
      At least way more balanced than what he said in the aftermath of Silverstone…

      1. Indeed, it was a Marshall acting on his own, but conform protocol.
        Fia missed it and forgot to cancel his waving.
        But waved is penalty.

      2. A “rogue ” normally implies that the individual is acting in bad faith, or acting against the interests of the person calling them rogue. That implication is probably what drew the ire of the FIA.

        1. Thank you. That was the nuance I was missing than.

  7. Of course he’s feeling pressure but as with managers across all sports, they’ll never admit it when they’re at the sharp end of a title fight. You don’t hear Pep Guardiola in an interview before a Champions League final saying “yeah I’m massively feeling the pressure… I couldn’t sleep last night! I don’t even want to watch the match today…”

    Everyone involved across both teams (including drivers, staff, managers) will all publicly say “we’re not feeling pressure, we just have to take it one race at a time” etc but of course they’re all feeling the pressure. One mistake and the Championship could be over. No-one wants that to be their fault.

  8. He could have just quoted the original

  9. He apologized yet has no regrets? The big story should be: team principle suffers from multiple personality disorder.

    1. Hoosier

      He apologized yet has no regrets? The big story should be: team principle suffers from multiple personality disorder.

      He was apologetic for all the marshalls taking offence on the thing he said, but he has no regret on the things he meant, that is, there was a confusion with the flags, a “rogue yellow flag”. He originally said “rogue marshall”, of course, hence the unfortunate comment.
      But regardless of it being right or wrong, this is what he meant.

  10. Leave Karen@RBR alone!
    He/She/It’s having a midlife crisis. Never mind an F1 crying, hissy, chitfitsis.
    Check out the nascent sideboards & beard emerging.
    I think he may well be trying to Spice up his life!
    p.s. FFS don’t tell him the scruffy 1/2 beard look isn’t clever with the grey, white hair bit!

    1. Wait, Horner is the Karen? I thought it was everyone in the comments section…

    1. A pressure/no pressure statement shared by Marko, who spoke at the same time about ‘an inexperienced person waving a flag.’ If people didn’t know better they might assume the pair colluded on what line to take and who to point the finger at.

    2. Not exactly pressure, it’s the “heat of the competition”, like what made Wolff say the f word in team radio directed to his opponents. A quite revealing moment from him as well.

  11. Most of the “worldwide” Formula 1 media is unimpressed with the time that Horner get to offer his views on issues in SkySports coverage. Freedom of expression is good only if it’s Totospeak. They want to give a full stand to one of the team principals to talk whatever he wants, no matter how absurd it is, and wished to deny it to the other. The free pass of bullcarp should be available for only one of them, and it’s never a coincidence who that is. And worse, they take the word of one of them as the revealed truth, specially when it’s about their elected “goat”, whilst the word of the other one is taken to deepest of the scrutinity, and one answer is never enough to prove how the Mad Max is not “feeling the pressure”. When it’s not him it’s his boss that should be in the defensive. And that’s about right, they’re exposed anyway and have to deal with it, if only the journalistic work and inquiry hadn’t be done by a half. Recently we might say that Toto and Lewis barely have journalists asking and checking them, at least from Britain, they have fans disguised as “neutrals” making the news coverage.

    1. Most people dont see it but go down the Mercedes narrative rabbit hole. It’s my primary dislike of this season. The propaganda and faul play from Mercedes, executed flawlessly has diminished the value of this sport. It has become a political soap with some drivers starring in it.

      1. Christian? Is that you?

    2. It’s funny how Horner being typically British receives so much negative feedback. Always idolizing and defending his drivers no matter what.

  12. Just days after saying both the team and the FIA could learn from the “rouge marshal” incident, his meaning is now clear. He never intended to look at his own actions and learn from them. He continues to act as self absorbed as he has ever been. It’s a shame. I want to be able to root for Red Bull and Max because I think they could bring something fresh to F1 but they are as toxic now as Red Bull and Seb during the height of their dominance. Instead of something fresh, we are getting stale old narcissism that we could get from Mercedes and Lewis, who at least thinly veiled theirs with the same tired platitudes year after year during their domination about wanting to be challenged and how they weren’t as dominant as it appeared. It was bull. Everyone knew is was bull. But at least they tried. Red Bull aren’t even trying to hide their self absorption.

  13. He just seems like the same old ‘stuff isn’t perfectly suited to me’ Christian Horner… whinging away at anyone who’ll listen, seemingly utterly convinced of his own innocence and presence on the correct side of the argument, taking his own self-interest and attempting to spin it into a ‘for the greater good’ story, etc.

    Not pressure. It’s just Horner being Horner, with added microphones.

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