Christian Horner reflect on F1 Qatar GP happenings as Michael Masi adds on more about marshaling, with Toto Wolff chipping in his view.

It was pretty heated during the F1 Qatar GP and it started on Saturday after a late crash for AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly which brought out the yellow flags and caught out some. There was some mixed signals in terms of light panel and waved flags.

With the dash not showing the yellow sectors, the drivers thought it was clear and some did not see the waved flags. After careful double-checks, it was noted that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz seemingly broke the rule.

While Verstappen was called in for double-waved situation, Bottas and Sainz went in for single-waved miss. Eventually, the Dutchman was handed a five-place drop with the Finn getting a three-place and the Spaniard escaping either of it.

That resulted in media comments from the Red Bull camp – especially Horner and Helmut Marko – where the former called the marshal as ‘rogue’. Post-race, he was called in by the stewards and was given a warning after he agreed to apologise and attend a seminar.

Horner noted that it wasn’t a single message for the marshal and no offence was intended but he put down his style of commenting being bad or him getting under pressure. FIA Race Director, Masi noted that he referred him to the stewards for the warning.


Sequence of events –

Horner: “Obviously with the penalty, I made a comment on one of the broadcast channels that I felt that there had been a rogue marshal who waved the yellow flag, and the stewards took offence to that. I just reassured them that no offence was made or intended with the individual. It was more frustrating having three or four cars pass the same car with no yellow flags, but ours got a waved yellow flag. I think the apology was accepted, and I would just like to make it clear it wasn’t pointed at marshals. I think marshals do a wonderful job around the world. They are volunteers. Without marshals there would be no motorsport. It’s just the circumstances that were frustrating, and I think there’s something that can be learned from this.”

Pressure getting to you –

Horner: “No, not at all. I believe in my team. I am a straight talker and I’ve always conducted myself in that manner. I’m not an overly emotional person, I don’t rant at cameras. I think the way I’ve conducted myself, I’ve got no issues with, and I’d do exactly the same. I think the only issue, regarding the marshal, was that if there was any personal offence taken for referencing a rogue yellow flag, it was not intended at any individual or any marshal. I don’t think it was unreasonable. I don’t know whether you heard the interview that I gave [where the comments came from] but I didn’t feel that it was unreasonable.”


Referring Horner and the seminar attendance –

Masi: “Yes I did, it was a race director referral to the stewards. Believe me I don’t have time to go through social media to read the news. I was advised of them, and referred Christian, and Christian was very apologetic for his comments. Obviously the steward’s decision was very straightforward, that Christian was very apologetic and didn’t mean to offend anyone, the person in question who was actually waving the flag has been apologised to personally, and Christian to his credit has volunteered to come and be a part of the stewards’ seminar in 2022. It’s a two-day stewards seminar, so there’s lots that’s discussed over those two days. There’ll be lots of topics and we might give him a topic to present.”

Felt responsible for the marshal –

Masi: “I think you should not attack any person, 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, all of them give up a huge amount of time, and 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 around every racetrack around the world that that is not accepted. It was a safety activity, acting upon the best…in their view…he or she acted in the best of keeping everyone safe on track. And I don’t think anyone should be criticised for acting upon their instincts.”

Wolff – all are responsible:

“I think there’s a lot at stake and you always need to….in a way I don’t even want to comment on him because we all our responsible for what we say, what we do and for our own pressure, that is certainly very high. I haven’t even heard or read what he said. Only that he was naughty.”

What led to these shenanigans was the end call during qualifying. Post-race, Masi clarified the chain of events and how the marshaling system actually works. He talks about the light panels and how the local officials handled the situation.

Who’s in-charge and subsequent summon –

Masi: “With all yellow flags that are displayed they are displayed from the trackside, they are in the hands of the officials control, as they are at every venue in every form of the sport anywhere. And if they deem it a single or a double it is up to those officials to determine that. And they judge what they see before them. That is why they are there.

“If you have a look at where the cars were on the track from that perspective then you go through and have a look at all of the footage of every single car in the top 10, which is what I did, and then you look a the data and so forth, obviously it is time consuming, and you want to make sure is what you’ve got. So once we finally got to it we determined who had done what and what displayed and what wasn’t displayed and so forth, and then reported those to the stewards and they picked up the summons.”

No involvement of clerk of the course – 

Masi: “The local officials operate the yellow flags, they always have. The light panels as well, since the inception of light panels. So the yellow flags, white flags, blue flags during practice and qualifying. Effectively the things that are not operated by the local officials are the safety car, which is centrally controlled, VSC, which is centrally controlled, and red flags, as in red flags on the light panels, those three are centrally controlled, and everything else is for the local officials to operate.”

Issue of yellow and green, single and double –

Masi: “If you have a look, it is the consecutive sectors, so if you have the look at the marshaling panels, it was one before Turn 16 which then automatically as it is with normal flags, effectively you have a yellow flag at one point, the point shows the green. So the way the marshaling system is set-up is you are in the sector, you get to the next point and its green because from therefore it is clear. When yellow-green, then the next sector yellow with green. We can intervene in the marshaling system but obviously not instantaneously, there’s time in that.”

Marshal handling –

Masi: “I think 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 Pierre’s done, they acted upon instinct of what was before them.”

Wolff – what can be done:

“There was a yellow on track because a car parked to the right, I think was pretty normal and standard. But the penalty is standard, the rules are rules, it happened to us in Austria in 2020. I think you have the track marshaling system, the dash you have the flash, you have the flag and a car parked, so you have four criteria that needs to be judged on. Obviously, in the heat of the moment, in qualifying things can happen which shouldn’t happen, it could be dangerous. These things go both ways I think, probably a lot of drivers have been penalised by that before.”

Here’s full details and comments of Christian Horner regarding his warning

Here’s Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff on how Qatar went

Here’s Max Verstappen on his start and race

Here’s what Valtteri Bottas said regarding the puncture

Here’s Christian Horner and Toto Wolff on about multiple topics