Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has called his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner “naughty” after he was summoned to the stewards in Qatar for criticising a “rogue marshal”. Max Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double-waved flags during qualifying in Doha when Pierre Gasly suffered a front wing failure and puncture in the closing moments of the session.
Single yellow flags were initially shown before the track returned briefly to green after which double-waved yellows were shown as Gasly came to a complete stop on the start/finish straight.
Single-waved yellow flags being shown means there is a hazard on track and a driver must be prepared to change direction, however double-waved means the driver must be prepared to stop.
Yet with the confusion on track, Horner was left frustrated ahead of the race.
“I’m struggling to understand it,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “The race director [Michael Masi] effectively said ‘play on, it’s safe, it’s clear’.
“Max was at the beginning of the lap, in the first sector, so he has so much time to look at it. Otherwise, we’d have informed him. Unfortunately, there’s a yellow flag, he just didn’t see it, he even saw a green light on the right-hand side [in the pitlane].
FIA’s Michael Masi explains why he handed Christian Horner a warning
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“I think it’s just a rogue marshal that’s stuck a flag out, he’s not been instructed to by the FIA, 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.”
Horner was summoned to the stewards on Sunday night directly after the race and was handed an “official warning” for his comments, with race director Michael Masi making it clear he would not tolerate any criticism of officials or volunteers at events.
Horner also added there “needs to be some grown-up decisions made by grown-ups”, and Wolff, who has had his fair share of jabs from the Red Bull boss, refused to be drawn into any debate.
“I think that there is a lot at stake and you always need to…in a way I don’t even want to comment on him because we are all responsible for what we say and what we do,” said Wolff.
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“[We all] have our own pressures and that is certainly very high.”
Smiling, Wolff added: “I haven’t even heard or read what he said, only that he was naughty.”
After a trip to the stewards, however, Horner apologised for any offence caused, admitting it was due to “inconsistency” frustrations, escaping with just an official warning.
The Briton even offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme in early February.
Verstappen had his lead cut to just eight points in Qatar as Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory in Doha.
Formula One heads to Saudi Arabia next before the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
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