‘It is my duty to defend my team’: Horner opens up on Red Bull lobbying Masi

Christian Horner would like radio messages to continue to be aired to the public after the controversial end to the 2021 season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is not a fan of the prohibition of radio messages between the teams and race control ahead of the 2022 season.

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn and executive director of single-seaters Peter Bayer have confirmed that there will be one select member from each team who will be allowed to enquire as to certain decisions by race control, and these messages will not be broadcast like they were last season.

Amusing radio messages were heard at last year’s British Grand Prix after a heavy collision between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen when Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told then race director Michael Masi that he had sent him an email, only for the Australian to tell him “I don’t check my emails during the race.”

Wolff and Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko admitted that the persistent radio message are not conducive to consistent decisions from the race director, but Horner sees the value for the audience in hearing messages between teams and race control during events.

“I have pushed hard and I am responsible for the radio messages being broadcast,” he told MotorSport magazine.

“I’ve always felt it would be interesting for the public to hear what goes on between the wall and the race director, but I thought that if it was broadcast it would be used less.

“Such is the competitiveness we had last year, it was used. Of course, if I hear another team principal putting pressure on the race director it is my duty to defend my team.”

During the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, however, things were a little more serious as Horner and Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley tried to convince Masi to allow lapped runners to pass the Safety Car late on in the title decider.

“Those lapped cars; you don’t need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack. You only need to let them go, and then we’ve got a motor race on our hands,” said Wheatley, before Horner told the 44-year-old that only “one racing lap” was needed.

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Masi opted to permit only the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen go through, leading to a controversial final lap overtake from the 24-year-old to claim his maiden world title.

Wolff was instantly on the phone to the Australian to tell him that his decision was “so not right,” before Masi told him “it’s called a motor race.”

Horner elaborated on his part in the late chaos.

“In Abu Dhabi my job and my responsibility was to fight as hard as I could for the team. I wouldn’t have done my job properly if I hadn’t,” he explained.

Since the bizarre finish at the Yas Marina Circuit, Masi has been relieved of his duties as race director and replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will receive support from former deputy race director Herbie Blash and a virtual control room.

The Briton does not mind the ruling that one member is to have access to the FIA via radio this season, but questions the decision to keep it all internal.

“It’s good to define who can talk to the race director, but I think it’s something that should still be open to the public because the fans and spectators have a right to hear it. It’s part of the sport,” he added.