Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insists there was nothing personal about the team’s petition for a right of review against Lewis Hamilton’s penalty, following accusations from Mercedes.
Mercedes issued a statement on Thursday that included the belief that there had been “a concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton” that it hoped would end after the petition failed. While Horner defended the right to appeal the penalty, he says the team would have done the same regardless of the driver involved in the incident with Max Verstappen at Silverstone.
“Well, first of all it was absolutely not a personal attack on Lewis Hamilton,” Horner said. “Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time world champion and everything that he has achieved stands for itself. If it was any other competitor on the grid, we would have taken the same issue in the manner that we did.
“I think that I’m entitled to an opinion on that incident, as is everybody else. Obviously at the time, emotions are running high. We’ve got a driver needing to be taken to hospital for precautionary checks after an accident which would have definitely knocked out your average human being, we’d lost the car in its entirety under a budget cap environment for something the stewards didn’t deem to be Max’s fault.
“So there’s nothing personal about it, but even a seven-time world champion can make mistakes, or misjudgments. That’s just a fact of life. At no point has this been personal about Lewis and it would have been the same with any other driver and any other team on the grid.”
To that end, Horner felt the statement from Mercedes that was put out after the petition was dismissed was designed to further annoy Red Bull.
“The statement by Mercedes is a little antagonistic, shall we say, but I don’t really read too much into it. It’s never been anything personal about a single driver. It’s about the events that happened and a competition between two guys, it’s not individual to any driver.
“I was a little surprised at Mercedes’ comments. We put that behind us and our focus is very much on track and obviously try to build on the momentum that we’ve taken after the sprint race in Silverstone.”
The FIA document that rejected the petition on Thursday night also included a line that the stewards noted certain allegations from Red Bull “with some concern,” but Horner says those related to the ability to lobby the stewards before they came to a decision during the race.
“Within the submission we talked about the process of approaching the stewards during the course of an event, and I think the FIA have obviously subsequently clarified the process for that now, which we’re fine with and pleased for that clarification. So that was one of the main, pertinent reasons.
“At no point did we question the objectivity of the FIA. Of course through the right of appeal that other teams have also utilized … we felt that we had new evidence that we wanted them to consider. We felt that they were objective about that.
“I think the one point that we did raise was that the objectivity could be prejudiced if you’re influenced by having a competitor go in with data prior to a decision being made. And I think that that… we were assured had no influence on the decision-making and I think with the clarifications that have come out now regarding approaching the stewards’ office during the course of a grand prix, I think that clearly deals with that and we’re more than comfortable with that.”