Christian Horner highlights a ‘massive variable’ when FIA trigger red flag restarts

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner, Red Bull, in sunglasses and headset. Bahrain, February 2023.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner wearing sunglasses and a headset. Bahrain, February 2023.

Christian Horner said restarting from a red flag is a “lottery” but ultimately backed the race director’s call to wave it in Melbourne.

A straightforward afternoon on paper for Red Bull turned out to be anything but, with Sergio Perez starting at the back while Max Verstappen watched his pole position disappear going into Turn 1.

Verstappen was ultimately able to regain the lead while Perez worked his way through the field, but Red Bull could have lost everything they had worked for when a late red flag forced a standing start with two laps to go.

What resulted was chaos, with more than five drivers being involved in some kind of incident at the restart. Thankfully for Horner, none of them were wearing the red, blue and yellow overalls of Red Bull with Verstappen going on to secure his second win of the season while Perez ended P5.

Speaking about the red flag late on, Horner said it was a situation that provided a “lottery” for his drivers.

“It’s something that has been discussed,” he said as per “I think there’s always been a preference to finish under racing conditions, so if by stopping the race enabled them to tidy up the circuit, so rather than cruise out the remaining laps under a Safety Car, it’s the right thing to do.

“The problem is, when you’re the lead car and you’ve been controlling a 10s lead all afternoon suddenly it’s a massive variable that becomes a bit of a lottery.”

Ultimately though, Horner backed the call the race director made, saying he understood the rationale of wanting to finish under racing conditions.

“It was always going to be hugely frustrating when you get a red flag and a restart with three laps to go,” he said.

“When you’re the leader, you can only lose from that point. You can understand the rationale between wanting to finish under racing conditions rather than cruising behind the Safety Car for three laps.

“They might have been able to clear the circuit and get it going, I don’t know. Like all these things, there’s always something to learn.” recommends

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The next matter to decide was the final classification with the race almost immediately being red flagged once more, drawing up comparisons to the 2022 British Grand Prix.

FIA rules state cars must have passed the first sector line so that the director has an accurate representation of their order.

Leader Verstappen had not done so and therefore the grid was reverted back to how it was at the restart, minus the cars that could no longer compete.

“As it unfolded, it was a case of did they cross the safety car line, it was another Silverstone [2022], basically,” said Horner.

“We had tremendous support from the operations room as well, they have all the data in a calm environment, so basically they crunch the numbers and obviously Jonathan [Wheatley, Red Bull sporting director] working with his team as well. It was clear the race wasn’t going to restart.”