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Horner blasts 'negative' media

NEWS STORY
25/07/2014

Christian Horner hit out at the media today claiming that negativity being aimed at team bosses should be directed at Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt.

The first part of the official press conference, hosted by veteran Bob Constanduros, was pretty much business as usual, the assembled team bosses agreeing with one another and opting to remain on the fence wherever possible.

However, things took a turn for the worse when the floor was thrown open to the gathered media.

A question about the FIA's decision to allow McLaren to change its brakes ahead of the German Grand Prix, thereby setting a precedent, passed without any problems, but then came a question about whether the sport should still be heading to Russia in light of recent events.

Having made it clear that they were contractually bound to take part in races, that they didn't get involved in politics and that they relied on the FIA and Commercial Rights Holder to take care of such things, the team bosses sat back feeling the matter had been dealt with.

But then followed a question about the low turnout in Germany, followed by another about CVC loading the sport with debt before selling out next year, feathers on the dais clearly ruffled.

Returning to the subject of Russia, the team bosses were then asked about today's confirmation that F1 is heading to Azerbaijan, the journalist asking if the sport is happy to continue visiting countries with poor records in terms of Human Rights, would the teams be willing to follow Bernie Ecclestone to North Korea. Ouch!

Following a brief, stunned, silence, Vijay Mallya replied: "We're racing people, more popularly known as petrol heads. We come here to race and to win and to enjoy it. The governance is an international organisation called the FIA. It is up to the FIA to decide where the sport is conducted. I don't think that the teams, individual participants in the sport, should be holding their individual positions to determine social political issues that you have raised. The FIA is perfectly competent to determine where Formula One should be staged and not be staged.

"It's a not question of following Bernie," he added. "I think the question has been wrongly framed. It's the commercial rights holder, it's the FIA. We race where they stage the events. It's as simple as that."

However, when Christoph Becker of Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked: "Do you think that it does your product a lot of good going to Baku, given their human rights record?", Christian Horner finally lost patience.

"This is becoming a very depressing press conference as we're only focusing on the negativities," he said. "Look, there's a calendar that comes out in October or November. We all have a choice whether we enter the World Championship or not. All the people sitting here are racers and they're here because they're passionate about the sport and they want to compete. When we sign up for that championship, we put our faith and trust in the promoter and the FIA and we will attend those races unless they deem it unnecessary for us to be there.

"All of you will be at those races, or the vast majority of you will be at those races and why, because you're either passionate about the sport or because you earn a living out of covering the sport and I think it's wrong to make Formula One a political statement or subject when we are a sport.

"We should be talking about the drivers in these conferences, we should be talking about the spectacular racing that happened between our drivers and his (Marco Mattiacci's) driver at the last Grand Prix. We should be talking about what a great race it was for Lewis Hamilton to come through the grid, yet all we do is focus on the negatives and it has to be said, it gets pretty boring for us to sit up here and field these questions. So how about asking some questions about what's going to happen in the race on Sunday, what's going to happen in qualifying tomorrow, because if you've got these questions, please point them at Mr Todt or Mr Ecclestone rather than the teams."

Fact is, these questions do need to be asked, and perhaps Mr Ecclestone and Mr Todt should make themselves available at one of the forthcoming events in order to publicly answer them.

In recent days Ecclestone has made a number of glib comments to the media however, the fact is a lot of people are still very unhappy with the current situation and if this starts to filter through to the people who hold the purse strings - the sponsors - the Commercial Rights Holder may find himself on shaky ground.

If nothing else, today's line of questioning actually got a reaction.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 28/07/2014 11:14

"Quite agree with Chris Balfe. You can hardly compare Britain's refusing to let convicted murderers in prison vote, with the mass arrests, torture and state-sponsored killings, which occur in various of the countries F1 is "happy" to visit.

The autocratic rulers of these countries are "legitimised" by being allowed to host events like Formula 1, the World Cup, Olympics etc. This isn't a new phenomenon Hitler used the Berlin Olympics to try and make his loathsome ideology "respectable".

Although I disagree with Horner's general notion that Sport is somehow "outside" politics, I do agree that it isn't really up to individual teams to boycott specific events."

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2. Posted by MrShadow, 27/07/2014 10:51

"I admire the FIA and Ecclestone for refusing to become a toy of politics."

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3. Posted by Superbird70, 26/07/2014 12:39

"I thought the argument of, " I was just following orders.", had been dealt with after the Second World War."

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4. Posted by Chris Balfe (editor), 26/07/2014 10:31

""Show me a country that doesn't have human rights issues, the UK is in breach of Article 4(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the EU Social Charter amongst others."

There are breaches and then there is flagrant disregard."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 26/07/2014 10:28

"This is always going to be a problem. Whatever you consider to be the merits of FIA and CVC\Bernie's management and control of F1, there really do have to be limits. Will they race anywhere anytime for a profit, at the expense of all other considerations?


You cannot completely separate "commerce", from politics & morality. The "fiduciary duty" argument about needing only to make money for shareholders really doesn't work in all situations. It might hold when doing business in UK, USA, EC, and so-on where there is a framework of democratic control and Law and Order. But sadly it doesn't work when dealing with places like Bahrain, Russia and China which are controlled by various oppressive regimes. When CVC's profit comes from dealing with such regimes the FIA needs to think again about sanctioning the races.

In this instance Cristian Horner is largely correct, though if the teams could stop bickering with one another they could exert more influence over these issues. I'm a supporter of the "Fresh start" agenda. Formula One as it is currently constituted is on a downward spiral from Sport to mere "spectacle"."

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6. Posted by xoanon, 26/07/2014 10:13

"Show me a country that doesn't have human rights issues, the UK is in breach of Article 4(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the EU Social Charter amongst others."

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7. Posted by Chris Balfe (editor), 26/07/2014 9:45

"I think all sports have lost their soul, F1 probably more than most.

However, ignoring Mercedes dominance there has been some great racing of late. Though no thanks to Bernie, the FIA or the rest."

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8. Posted by Hardliner, 26/07/2014 9:39

"Oh dear. For the people who are 'in', the things that are in are out. Since CVC arrived on the scene and Bernie has had to really face retirement (ie max value) F1 has become a sad corporate wasteland. For 5 years I've been in favour of throwing the whole thing over, a new set of races run by the teams, new formula, ideally much greater amateur participation, pretty much the antithesis of what we've got. If we had great racing now I might be less concerned, but we don't. I'm afraid F1 needs up start all
over again, in a lock-up garage in Didcot, and recover it's soul "

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9. Posted by BjornAke, 26/07/2014 4:14

"@gturner38
I completely agree with what you say. And they all agreed on that they choose this series to race in and are in it because they love racing. But I don't think they should be able to just say"FIA tells us to go there", they're humans to and have their own right to say their thoughts.
And I absolutely think it is wrong for Ecclestone to book races in countries that are having such problems with their political agendas that they have problems keeping their citizens in the country, yet alone to have a competitive national racing series of their own.
Then F1 could as well go to countries such as Uganda or Iran. That would really make it more popular........"

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10. Posted by gturner38, 26/07/2014 1:01

"Why shouldn't the teams face these questions? I know they may not have anything to do with the races being scheduled in these countries, but it doesn't change the fact that these teams choose to stay in a series that will be racing in Bahrain, China, Russia, and Azerbaijan and present their sponsors at events that are often vanity projects for those governments. The teams may not want to be political, but when they are used for political purposes, they don't have much choice."

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