The Times’ Matthew Syed blasts Christian Horner for Red Bull’s boycott of Sky Sports, and for using “bullying and mental health to deflect from his own rule-breaking”.
The Times has published a fierce column by journalist Matthew Syed, titled “Delusional Horner is tarnishing the whole sport of Formula One”, in which he blasts Red Bull team boss Christian Horner for the way he has been conducting himself recently.
“Lewis Hamilton was robbed,” wrote Syed.
“I think we should make that plain at the start of this column. I emphasise this because Christian Horner and Max Verstappen of Red Bull decided to boycott Sky Sports after one of their reporters used this word in relation to the finale of the 2021 season, after a controversial safety car restart in the last moments of the race.
“Even the FIA, the sport’s governing body, admits that this was a significant error from the race director.
“So, permit me to say it again: Hamilton was robbed. If the rules had been correctly applied, he would now have an eighth world title.
“If the race director had done his job, Mercedes would boast another champion. Horner may now be pondering whether to ban The Times, and perhaps The Sunday Times too, on the basis of this assertion.
“If so, it won’t be long before Red Bull are avoiding all press outlets, and perhaps all social media too. Because ‘robbed’ is the way most people think about that incident.
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“This doesn’t imply that Hamilton was robbed by Horner or Verstappen — it just means that he was denied what was rightfully his, which is pretty much the textbook definition of the term.”
Syed then went on to further blast Horner for saying that the mental health of Red Bull’s employees has been suffering, due to other teams pointing out that his team had broken the rules, when they breached the 2021 budget cap.
“Instead of owning up to his error, Horner has lashed out on those who have dared to criticise him.
“At a press conference last week, he said that the censure Red Bull has received has undermined his team’s ‘mental health’ and has led to the children of staff being ‘bullied’ in the playground.
“I had always thought that José Mourinho was the ultimate in gracelessness under pressure (to invert Ernest Hemingway’s quote) but Horner has taken it to a new level.
“How dare the Red Bull principal deploy sensitive moral issues such as bullying and mental health to deflect from his own rule-breaking.
“If there are mental health issues at Red Bull as a result of their rule breach, the responsibility lies with them and them alone; not with those who have criticised them.
“To say otherwise is an Alice in Wonderland inversion, a gaslighting of those who stayed within budget.
“Like Mourinho at his worst, Horner is willing to blame everyone else, to distort reality, even to boycott those with whose opinions he disagrees, to sustain the pretence that everything Red Bull does is pure and it is only the ill intent of others that obscures this fact.”
In the end, Syed went as far as to call Horner “a loser”.
“The older one gets, the more one realises that it is not winning that matters in life, but the way one conducts oneself.
“Horner may have won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships this season but in his manner and example, he is tarnishing not only his team but F1, too.
“You might even — at the risk of a fresh boycott — call him a loser,” Syed concluded.
There’s a lot more Syed had to say, and you can read the full column at The Times’ official website.