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Horner's criticism of marshals was not acceptable, says Masi

NEWS STORY
23/11/2021

FIA race director, Michael Masi has defended the official warning issued to Christian Horner for comments made ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix.

Asked about the grid penalty handed to Max Verstappen for ignoring double-waved yellows at the end of Q3, Horner told Sky Sports: "I think it's just a rogue marshal that's stuck a flag out and he's not been instructed to by the FIA.

"They've got to have control of their marshals," he added. "It's as simple as that because that's a crucial blow in this world championship for us. We're starting P7 at a track you can't overtake at, that is massive.

"I think there needs to be some grown-ups making grown-up decisions," he continued. "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?"

In the moments after the race the Briton was summoned by the stewards and subsequently issued with an official warning.

Race director, Michael Masi later defended the decision.

"I think you should not attack any person," said the Australian. "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 couldn't happen," he added. "All of them give up a huge amount of time. 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 at every racetrack around the world, that such criticism is not accepted."

Referring to the Q3 incident, he said: "With all yellow flags that are displayed from trackside, they're in the hands of the officials' control as they are at every venue anywhere. And if they deem that it's a single or a double, it's up to those officials to determine that. And they judge what they see before them.

"What the locals did, they reacted to the situation before them," he said. "And that's plain and simple. If you have a look at what was there and what was happening and with everything with Pierre's car, they acted upon instinct for what was before them.

"They acted in the best interest of keeping everyone safe on track. And I don't think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts."

As unacceptable as Horner's comments were deemed to be, they pale into insignificance compared to Helmut Marko, who told DAZN: "It's ridiculous. You know the FIA can't organise a proper marshalling system and they are hiding their incompetence on the shoulders of the driver. Unbelievable."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Qatar, here.

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1. Posted by Pavlo, 23/11/2021 11:15

"@Bill Hopgood - correct. But it raises questions and criticism of Michael Masi. And I honestly hope the discussion doesn't finish with putting the blame (only) on Max and Christian.
Reading the verdict of FIA and reply of Mr. Masi it clearly says that the marshal was the only one to do the correct job, while Masi and other stewards failed.
What I see is: it's the last minute of qualifying. The race stewards sending the message "track is clear", reflecting on some panels and dashboard. The clear intention of the message is "there was a danger, but we consider it's safe to finish your laps". One marshal waving two flags on a high-speed straight of the night circuit. All happens directly where the damaged car is located and very close to the finish line. Is there something else later? Is there something new more serious with this danger?
And the driver at absolute limit (qualifying lap) needs to analyze this information.

Do stewards realize, that message "there is danger ... now is cleared" is way stronger message, then the absence of the message at all?
Do they realize, that the flags on the night circuit are not very prominent, and they should be as much as possible duplicated with boards and dashboard?
Do they agree that any meaningful warning about the danger should be displayed in advance before the danger?
Do they realize that demand to the driver to count the flags instead of paying maximum attention to direct danger on track is compromising the safety? And therefore (while it's still right to wave the flags directly near to the incident) it's a bad idea to penalize for ignoring them?

Again, would like to have consistent approach (this time to safety), that would guarantee double yellow when the car without the wheel is driving dangerously on track, as compared to the car fully under control slowing down and safely leaving space? "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 23/11/2021 7:41

"As a marshal I can see how this incident has happened.
Marshal's are keyed up for safety and react accordingly.
It would take way too long for Race Control to issue a direct command when some action happens in a marshal's sector.
Marshals are the eyes and ears for race control, not the other way round unless advised accordingly.
It works like this:
Incident happens, marshal reacts, radio to race control (who may also see what is happening on camera), race control advise further action for the marshal to take.
The reaction of the marshal comes down to three things training, training and training (experience also plays a part).
Training happens in between events and can be track specific.
Training also happens on Friday sessions where one can "get their eye in" and also in support classes however, the the Friday practice is a bit shorter now and in Qatar there was no support classes.
I'm not at all upset that Horner or Marko have had the opinion they have voiced.
They are racers and the competition is fierce.
People say things in the heat of the moment that they wouldn't usually say when having time to consider things a bit more.
I also don't blame Masi for being peeved either as the marshals have no way to respond publicly to what Horner has said.
"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Pavlo, 22/11/2021 21:16

"I support volunteers and criticising them is a no-go. But I think F1 has enough money to hire at least one permanent person per post to consistently control the flag, on track actions etc. It’s in the interest of the safety as well.
Still FIA should explain, how they ended up sending opposite messages, and why the board on the right was green. Instead of just hiding behind “don’t criticise”.
Yes, Max definitely deserved a penalty, but giving 5 places to the driver who got controversial double flag for the last 100 meters of the straight (and then obviously slowed down) and 3 places to another driver who openly confirmed seeing a flag and ignoring it (Bottas) is a pure formalism and has nothing to do with safety."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Italian Job, 22/11/2021 17:38

"@alistairmx,
I agree that he got off lightly, but I think that a cash penalty for someone in his position is a non-starter. If he has such a downer on marshals then I suggest that a penalty of spending several Sundays (outside the F1 season) working as a trainee marshal on circuits around the UK would be much more appropriate.
Also, outside the F1 season the weather can be horrible - all the better that Mr Horner appreciates this!"

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5. Posted by alistairmx, 22/11/2021 17:24

"In my opinion he should have been fined heavily."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Tardis40, 22/11/2021 16:13

"No different than Wolff's constant whining when something doesn't go his way"

Rating: Negative (-5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by Cobra Driver, 22/11/2021 13:44

"If superior running off at the mouth was a pre-cursor for superior running on the track, Horner and his team would be world champions."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by Roli, 22/11/2021 13:17

"I think Mr H got away with it lightly. Hope doesnt open his mouth and do it again. "

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9. Posted by Burton, 22/11/2021 13:07

"Masi is completely correct, for once. Appaling stuff from Horner and "doctor" Marko."

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Spindoctor, 22/11/2021 12:43

"FIA & Formula 1 certainly haven't covered themselves in glory over these incidents and assorted cynics have suggested the ridiculously late announcement of the penalties was to "add drama" etc. They may say that, but I couldn't possibly comment....

Yet again Horner & Marko outdo one another to make the most asinine & unhelpful comment. Needless to say, they'd not have batted an eyelid had it been Bottas alone, or Hamilton who "suffered" this terrible injustice.

It must be great to be Horner & Marko. These two seem absolutely certain that you are always right & in the right, while everyone else is wrong, corrupt or stupid. "

Rating: Positive (8)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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