Masi furious with Horner’s ‘rogue marshal’ comments

Date published: November 22 2021 - Michelle Foster

FIA race director Michael Masi and FIA president Jean Todt with Qatar marshal volunteers. Qatar November 2021

Nearing the end of a season where Michael Masi’s inbox is full, Christian Horner finally pushed the FIA race director too far at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Horner angered the Australian when he criticised a marshal after Max Verstappen was slapped with a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags on his final flying lap in qualifying.

Verstappen came up behind Pierre Gasly’s punctured AlphaTauri where one marshal was waving yellow flags as, while the Frenchman was off the racing line, it was a dangerous situation.

Verstappen did not slow, and on Sunday was slapped with the penalty that meant he lined up P7 on the Qatar GP grid.

Horner hit out at the marshal.

“It looks like a complete balls-up,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky F1.

“I think it’s just a rogue marshal that stuck a flag out and he hasn’t been instructed to by the FIA. They’ve got to have control of their marshals. It’s as simple as that.”

And that, at the end of a season where Masi has had to play referee in the Red Bull versus Mercedes war a bit too often, was the final straw for the race director.

Horner was summoned to the see stewards and given an official warning about his behaviour.

Masi feels it was completely out of line.

“I think you should not attack any person,” he said as per The Race.

“Particularly when we have thousands of volunteer marshals around the world, that give up a huge amount of time globally, without them this sport that everyone has very close to their heart [couldn’t happen].

“All of them give up a huge amount of time. Without them, it won’t happen. That’s the part that a lot of people miss.

“And I will defend every volunteer official and every official at every racetrack around the world, that [such criticism] is not accepted.”

He added: “What the locals did, they reacted to the situation before them, and that’s plain and simple.

“If you have a look at what was there and what was happening and with everything with Pierre’s car, they acted upon instinct for what was before them.”

“They acted in the best interest of keeping everyone safe on track. And I don’t think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts.”

 

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