F1 missed Charlie Whiting at Saudi GP, says Christian Horner


Christian Horner believes the drama of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix showed Formula One is still missing the experience of former FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

The Jeddah race descended into chaos, with two red-flag stoppages and a collision between championship contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull were furious Verstappen also received a five-second penalty for running Hamilton wide while defending position shortly before that collision.

Verstappen was also found predominantly to blame for the incident which saw Hamilton drive into the back of him, having been found to have slammed on the brakes in a dangerous fashion.

Current race director Michael Masi, who replaced Whiting after his death on the eve of the 2019 season, was a focal point in the drama. During one of the stoppages, Masi was effectively negotiating with Red Bull where Verstappen would line up on the grid for the restart.

Masi had a busy evening all round and at one point told Mercedes’ Ron Meadows he was dealing with other things as well as what was going on at the front.

After the race, Verstappen said F1 is now “more about penalties than racing”.

Horner said it showed F1 needed a figure like Whiting, who was one of the most respected figures in motor racing.

“I’ve said it for too long we’re over-regulated,” Horner said. “It felt like… there’s rules about 10 car lengths but the formation lap isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart. It feels like there are too many rules.

“It felt like today that the sport missed Charlie Whiting. I am sorry to say but the experience he had… it’s obviously frustrating but it’s difficult for Michael [Masi] and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue and this type of circuit with the amount of debris and the types of corners there are but it’s the same for everybody.”

Horner was confused by the situation with Masi negotiating over Verstappen’s grid slot, likening it to being at a Saudi Arabian market.

“It’s a bit like being down the souq, which was unusual. I’ve not come across that previously.

“Obviously, we voiced our own argument, I am sure Mercedes voiced theirs. It was just very frustrating.

We didn’t feel that the penalty, the five-second penalty, was really warranted and certainly felt Lewis just drove up the back of Max’s car.”



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