Red Bull’s Team Principal, Christian Horner has criticised the behaviour of Mercedes’ Toto Wolff in immediate aftermath of Max Verstappen’s incident with Lewis Hamilton as ‘like trying to lobby a jury’ at 2021 British Grand Prix.
Verstappen suffered an opening lap collision with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at Copse as he clipped the Brit’s front left tyre last Sunday (18 July), sending the Dutchman sliding across into the outside barriers in a 51G smash.
The incident resulted in Verstappen going to hospital for CT and MRI scans to conduct thorough checks in case or internal or neurological injuries, of which he was successfully cleared and released later that evening before flying home on Monday following a meeting with Horner.
In his debrief at redbull.com, Horner described Copse as ‘an incredibly high speed corner’ which should be ‘respected’ at all times as he argued that ‘Hamilton braked late and overshot the corner’ which left him unable to make the apex and avoid a collision with Verstappen as he too went wide after contact.
Controversy then reigned in the pit-lane as both Red Bull and Mercedes placed the defence cases of their drivers to the stewards across team radio, in which Horner was told to calm down whilst Wolff went to see the stewards after attempting to email details across to FIA Race Director – Michael Masi.
Explaining his thoughts on Wolff’s actions, Horner described his actions as like interfering with the jury in a court case, commenting: ‘It was brought to my attention through the TV broadcast that Toto was going to see the stewards with information he had tried to email to Michael before they had ruled on a penalty.
‘It is a little bit like trying to lobby a jury while they make their final verdict.’
Horner went on to state that the stewards should be ‘a totally independent body’ like they currently are and pointed out that in over 16 years as Team Principal, he has ‘never walked into the stewards’ room in the middle of a race or session.’
That run however came to an end last weekend at Silverstone as Horner reacted to Wolff’s ‘lobbying’ actions by venturing up to the stewards office himself, in order to argue that it ‘was not appropriate for anyone to interfere while the decision making process was underway’ as detailed in the sporting code.
FIA have since come out and clarified that nobody will be allowed to visit the stewards without permission unless summoned.
Horner consequently is ‘pleased’ to see the rule clarified in order to clamp down on intolerant ‘lobbying’ in case it leads to what he describes as a potential case of pressuring ‘stewards into a decision that is not wholly fair or impartial.’
‘Hamilton was given a light penalty’
Stewards eventually handed Hamilton a 10 second time penalty which ultimately didn’t stop the seven-time champion from taking his eighth victory after passing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the very same corner on lap 50.
Horner though still feels that ‘Hamilton was given a light penalty for this type of incident’ which cost Red Bull $1.8 million in a cost-cap era of F1, and is therefore reviewing all data at Red Bull’s disposal and could request a review once considered all of their ‘sporting options.’
Hamilton meanwhile suffered racial abuse on social media post-race with Horner, Verstappen and Red Bull as a team facing accusations of contributing to the unsavoury online events through their post-race remarks.
Horner however has argued that their behaviour was simply ‘natural’ of how ’emotion comes into play, for all involved, whether you feel wronged or victorious.’
The 47 year-old though noted that both drivers are ‘uncompromising in their driving style’ yet ‘highly skilled drivers with a great deal of experience’ whilst feeling that Hamilton has now ‘met his match in a car that is now competitive’ but urged both Verstappen and Hamilton to show one another ‘respect.’