It has indeed been a busy couple of weeks for the stewards having to work with investigations surrounding two of the major title contenders, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Of course, we all know what happened at Interlagos, but the latter weekend at the Qatar GP offered a hefty blow for Red Bull Racing.
Verstappen had to cope with a 5-place grid penalty for yellow-flag infringements, yet he managed to deliver an exceptional job on Sunday to keep his championship hopes alive.
Formula One F1 – Mexico Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 6, 2021 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner during practice REUTERS/Andres Stapff
Then arrived the controversial statement from Christian Horner, who slammed the ‘rogue marshals’ for waving the yellow flags despite the FIA retrieving it at that point in time. The comments did not go down well with the FIA, as they summoned the Red Bull boss for breach of the FIA sporting code.
In the end, Horner was let off with a warning, but Mercedes’ Toto Wolff managed to utilize this opportunity to take a sly dig at the ‘naughty’ Briton. “I haven’t even heard or read what he said, only that he was naughty,” he said.
We are all responsible: Wolff on Horner’s Qatar GP comments
“I think that there is a lot at stake and you always need to…in a way I don’t even want to comment on him because we are all responsible for what we say and what we do,” Wolff told reporters in Qatar according to PlanetF1. “[We all] have our own pressures and that is certainly very high.”
Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 21, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton sprays champagne as he celebrates on the podium after winning the race with second placed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Of course, the miscommunications between the marshals and the stewards may have denied Verstappen a front-row start. But, let’s be honest, even without the grid penalty, it is almost blatant that Verstappen wouldn’t have had the chance to challenge Hamilton for the win.
The 7-time world champion’s Mercedes W12 was almost in a different league, constantly lapping more than 0.2s quicker than Verstappen throughout the race.
Hence, the outing in Qatar was merely a weekend of damage limitations for Red Bull, and the Dutchman did manage it quite brilliantly, by not only clinching P2 but also snatching the fastest lap point from Hamilton.