The reigning Constructors’ champions issued a strong retort to their title rivals after the stewards rejected the team’s attempts to impose a harsher penalty on Lewis Hamilton by failing to provide “new, significant and relevant” evidence on Hamilton’s collision with Max Verstappen at the last race.
Hamilton was punished with a 10-second time penalty at his home race, but Red Bull stand firm in their opinion that this was not suitable – with Helmut Marko going so far as to say that the seven-time World Champion should have had a race ban imposed on him for the high-speed collision at Copse.
Mercedes’ statement after the stewards’ decision was handed down said the rejection of Red Bull’s appeal was “welcomed” by the team, but they were clear in their condemnation of Red Bull’s actions – not least for the implication of questioning Hamilton’s sportsmanship in the incident.
“We hope that this decision will mark the end of a concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton,” Mercedes said.
"Words like amateurish should have no place and what it triggered was an avalanche of comments on social media."
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) July 30, 2021
Horner stands by his team’s protest against the penalty, though, and admitted his surprise at how strongly Mercedes had reacted after his team’s failed appeal.
The Red Bull team principal also insisted that the decision to protest the penalty decision would have been taken against any driver on the grid in the same situation, not just Verstappen’s World Championship rival.
But now the decision has been made against his team, Horner said he now considers the matter to be closed and has instead chosen to focus on this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“The statement by Mercedes is a little antagonistic, shall we say, but I don’t really read too much into it,” Horner told reporters at the Hungaroring.
“It’s never been anything personal about a single driver. It’s about the events that happened, and a competition between two guys, it’s not individual to any driver.
“If that had been any other driver the reaction would have been identical. So, I was a little surprised by the Mercedes comments.
“But we’ve put that behind us and our focus is very much on track and obviously trying to build on the momentum that we’ve taken after the sprint race in Silverstone.”