In his British Grand Prix debrief Christian Horner once again bashed Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for the collision with Max Verstappen and the celebration aferward. We answer his criticism point by point.
After Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s collision at the British Grand Prix, that led to Max’s huge crash and subsequent retirement from the race, Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Dr. Helmut Marko launched some pretty personal attacks on Hamilton and Mercedes.
This led to Lord Peter Hain blasting Horner for inadvertently opening the floodgates of racist attacks aimed at Hamilton by certain fans on social media.
Well, not only did Horner not back down, he actually ramped up his criticism in his RedBull.com column. Now we will present Horner’s main points, followed by our response.
Horner on the incident itself:
“Copse is an incredibly high speed corner, one of the biggest corners on the F1 calendar as any driver will tell you, and one to be respected. When you look at the incident closely, Max took a wider line into Copse compared to Leclerc when Hamilton overtook him in the race. Hamilton braked late and overshot the corner. He was travelling at such a speed that he was never going to make the apex of the corner and his trajectory through Copse meant he was never going to miss Max, even with braking he ran very wide after the accident.
“Had Max made it through Copse, I don’t think Hamilton would have seen him again that afternoon as he learned in the previous day’s Sprint Race. No matter how experienced or talented, all drivers experience a build-up of pressure at times and this was a moment of extreme pressure for Hamilton in the championship, becoming the hunter as opposed to the hunted, and in front of his home crowd who saw him defeated the previous day at a track that has always been a Mercedes stronghold. We all know that these situations can bring out a different driving style and one that is not characteristic of a world champion, but it is at these times that we see the increased risk.”
We will not go into the specifics of the collision itself, as it was analysed by many competent observers, including former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer in his Formula1.com column. We enrourage you to read his analysis. The consensus from most former and current F1 drivers who have spoken out about this is that the collision is a classic example of a racing incident, and is a result of both drivers choosing to not back down. There’s a case to be made that it could have actually been predominantly Max’s fault, but we will not go into that here.
As far as Horner’s comments that “had Max made it through Copse”, he would have left Lewis in the dust, all we can say is that judging by their battles in previous corners and the speed Lewis was carrying, had he not overtaken Max at Copse, he would have probably done it very soon. Also, to imply that “extreme pressure” led to Lewis making a mistake, we can only say Lewis seemed very calm before, during and after the incident. Not only that, but he took the undeserved penalty on the chin and drove a magnificent race, ultimately taking the win. With Max’s championship lead now very much diminished, we’ll see how HE deals with pressure.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
Horner on Toto Wolff going to the stewards:
“It was brought to my attention through the TV broadcast that Toto was going to see the stewards with information he had tried to email to Michael before they had ruled on a penalty. It is a little bit like trying to lobby a jury while they make their final verdict. The Stewards are locked away to ensure they are independent of external influence in order to reach their own conclusions.
“So having heard that Toto was lobbying the stewards, I went up to see them and raised the point that neither of us should be there and it was not appropriate for anyone to interfere while the decision making process was underway. It is also detailed in the sporting code that this is not acceptable and I am now pleased to see that the FIA have clarified that this sort of lobbying will not be tolerated in the future as it may well pressure the stewards into a decision that is not wholly fair or impartial.
“It is no secret that we felt at the time, and still feel, that Hamilton was given a light penalty for this type of incident
“Given the severity of the incident and the lenient penalty, we are reviewing all data and have the right to request a review. We are therefore still looking at the evidence and considering all of our sporting options.
“The other significant factor is the cost-cap element of this. That crash has cost us approximately $1.8million and an accident like that has massive ramifications in a budget cap era.”
Everybody who’s watched the broadcast could hear that Christian Horner was the first person to lobby hard immediately after the incident, as his radio conversation with race director Michael Masi was broadcast for all to hear.
Toto Wolff himself said that he contacted Masi and the stewards only after he heard the radio from Horner. So, Horner’s statement that Wolff was at fault here seriously clashes with reality itself.
As far as the $1.8million in damage goes, perhaps Horner should talk to his driver about unnecessary risk-taking. When you have a 32 points lead in the championship, maybe you should think about your actions more thoroughly. No matter who was in the wrong at the Copse corner, an experienced driver would have conceded for the time being, as the points advantage gives him a pretty big cushion. Hamilton had no such luxury and it was do or die for him.
Horner on Wolff’s response to his post-race comments:
“I would like to respond to some comments I have seen from Toto, who is quoted as saying our comments regarding Hamilton having caused the accident were “so personal”.
“I would like to make it clear. This was an on-track incident between two of the best drivers in the world. At the point in time when you have a driver in hospital and the extent of any injuries have not yet been made clear, your car has been written off and the stewards have penalised the driver seen to be responsible, it is natural that emotion comes into play, for all involved, whether you feel wronged or victorious.
“I also felt the narrative that Max was being ‘overly aggressive’ at that stage was unjustified. You only have to look at the fact Max has zero penalty points on his licence and has not been found guilty of any on-track misjudgements in recent years. The aggressive 17-year-old F1 rookie Max Verstappen that Hamilton is referring to is not the Max Verstappen of today, just as Hamilton is not the same driver he was when he entered the sport. Both drivers are of course uncompromising in their driving style, but they are both highly skilled drivers with a great deal of experience. The reality is that Hamilton has met his match in a car that is now competitive, and I agree that both drivers need to show each other respect, but Hamilton was the aggressor on Sunday.”
Kudos to Horner for admitting that his emotions got the best of him after the race, we can all understand that. He would however look much better if he actually apologized for unnecessary attacks on Lewis Hamilton’s character.
As far as Max’s aggressiveness goes, yes he indeed has a history of being overly aggressive, of being unwilling to back down and in turn causing unnecessary collisions. The problem for Max is that HE was the one that has met his match and encountered a driver who refused to be bullied on the track and who decided to return the aggressiveness. The only problem is that Max was in a position to back down because of his huge championship lead, a lead that is now gone because of his inability to think about the big picture. Perhaps Red Bull should focus on that.
Horner on Hamilton and Mercedes’ post-race celebration:
“I am also still disappointed about the level of celebrations enjoyed in the wake of the accident. The Mercedes team were aware of the gravity of the crash with Max widely reported as having been hospitalised and requiring further checks.
“It is unimaginable not to inform your driver of the situation, moreover to protect your driver in case they do not show the necessary restraint in celebrating, particularly when it was as a result of an incident he was penalised for.”
Oh boy, the hospital argument again. By the time the race ended EVERYBODY was aware that Max was fine. Wolff confirmed he got word from the FIA that Max was unharmed, and that the checks in the hospital were just a precautionary measure. At that point nobody was fearing for Max’s wellbeing.
And to say that Hamilton should have been more restrained because he was “penalised” for the incident, not only was he aware that Max was fine, but he also didn’t think the incident was his fault. Being penalised and actually being at fault is sometimes not the same thing, and even Red Bull would agree on that.
Final words from us:
In the end, we are not holding anything against Christian, Max or Red Bull. This is racing, this is the fight for the championship and emotions run very high. We have nothing but respect for everything Christian, Max and Red Bull have done in the sport, and we look forward to more clashes and good racing between them and Mercedes.
Of course, the most important thing is that Max is unharmed and able to fight another day. We look forward to watching him on the track for years to come.
However, when we think somebody is wrong in attacking the team and the people we love and respect, we feel an obligation to respond. There is no ill will toward anyone from our side.
Now, let’s put this whole ordeal behind us and enjoy this brilliant Formula 1 season!
SilverArrows.Net is an unofficial and independent Mercedes F1 news website and is not associated in any way with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Daimler AG or the Formula 1 companies, nor does it express their views and opinions.