Horner criticises Race Control radio broadcast ban

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner in conversation. Barcelona February 2022.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner engaged in conversation during testing. Barcelona February 2022.

Christian Horner feels radio messages to and from Race Control should still be publicly broadcast, saying fans “have a right to hear it”.

Correspondence between high-level team members and race director Michael Masi were played out on the international TV feed during races for the first time in 2021, giving fans added insight into the lobbying which goes on during races between the pit wall and Race Control.

Of course, the most infamous example of this came in Abu Dhabi, when Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley appealed to Masi to get the race restarted while the field was behind the Safety Car.

When the decision was made, a response came from a furious Toto Wolff, with the message of: “No Michael no, that was so not right!” being played out around the world before the final lap got underway – with the Mercedes boss recently claiming Wheatley struck up a “bromance” with the race director over the course of the season, which swayed him towards the eventual outcome of the season finale.

Christian Horner and Max Verstappen after the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina December 2021.
Christian Horner and Max Verstappen on the podium after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Yas Marina December 2021.

But because of the drama caused by the conversations in Abu Dhabi, the decision has been taken to no longer play these messages out to the global audience watching, a move which Red Bull team principal Horner believes should not have happened.

“I have pushed hard and I am responsible for the radio messages being broadcast,” Horner told MotorSport Magazine, quoted by SoyMotor.

“I’ve always felt it would be interesting for the public to hear what goes on between the wall and the race director, but I thought that if it was broadcast it would be used less.

“Such is the competitiveness we had last year, it was used. Of course, if I hear another team principal putting pressure on the race director it is my duty to defend my team.”

The fall-out from Abu Dhabi rumbled on throughout the winter months, with Masi eventually being replaced as race director as a result of the uproar which occurred after Max Verstappen took the World Championship in the most controversial of circumstances.

But instead of banning the public playing of FIA radio messages, Horner feels that rules should be tightened around who is able to talk to the race director instead, and continue to allow fans to listen in.


“In Abu Dhabi my job and my responsibility was to fight as hard as I could for the team. I wouldn’t have done my job properly if I hadn’t,” he expanded.

“It’s good to define who can talk to the race director, but I think it’s something that should still be open to the public because the fans and spectators have a right to hear it. It’s part of the sport.”


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