FIA race director Michael Masi has zero tolerance for any “attack” on the volunteer marshals who help motorsport take place safely, following Christian Horner’s comments at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty for failing to respect double waved yellow flags in qualifying after passing a marshal post that was warning drivers of Pierre Gasly’s position of being stopped on the pit straight. Horner was angered that race control messages suggested the track was clear and that “a rogue marshal” decided otherwise. However, his comments were given short shrift from Masi as Horner was summoned to the stewards for breaching the FIA International Sporting Code.
“I think you should not attack any person, especially when you have thousands of volunteer marshals around the world that give up a huge amount of time globally,” Masi said. “Without them it won’t happen, that’s the part a lot of people miss and I will defend every volunteer official, at every race track around the world, (and make clear) that that is not accepted.
“It was a safety activity. They acted on the best interest of keeping everyone safe on track and I don’t think anyone should be criticized for acting on their instinct.”
Masi was made aware of Horner’s comments to Sky and decided they were worthy of reporting to the stewards, but was pleased with the way the Red Bull team principal accepted his error.
“It was a race director referral. Believe me, I don’t have time to go and search social media in the lead up to the race but I was advised of them, referred Christian, Christian was very apologetic and obviously the stewards decision was very straightforward.
“He didn’t mean to offend anyone, the person in question who was waving the flag has been apologized to personally and Christian to his credit has volunteered to be a part of the stewards seminar in 2022. It’s a penalty, a warning. It’s just a warning.”