Saudi Arabian Grand Prix shows F1 ‘misses Charlie Whiting’, Christian Horner claims

The Red Bull team boss was left frustrated by a number of decisions that did not go their way

Jamie Braidwood
Tuesday 07 December 2021 10:31
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Verstappen and Hamilton go into F1 season finale level on points

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix showed that Formula One was missing the experience of former race director Charlie Whiting, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Horner was left frustrated by a number of decisions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and was highly critical of the current race director Michael Masi.

Sunday’s race was halted on two occasions by red flag stoppages and there were heated discussions between Masi and the teams.

At one point, Masi offered Red Bull the option to give a place back to title rival Lewis Hamilton after their driver Max Verstappen had gained an off-track advantage.

Horner also hit out at several perceived inconsistencies after Verstappen was hit with two separate time penalties. Whiting, the sport’s long-time race director, passed away in 2019.

“I think we’re over-regulated,” Horner said. “There’s rules about 10 car lengths, then the formation lap isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart. It feels that there’s too many rules.

“It felt like today the sport missed Charlie Whiting, I’m sorry to say, but the experience that he had…

“It’s obviously frustrating but it’s difficult for Michael [Masi] and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue, type of circuit, with the amount of debris and types of corner there are. But it’s the same for everybody.”

He added: “Obviously pretty much every decision went against us, as they did in Doha a couple of weeks ago. Then we saw two incidents yesterday that... it’s been variable to say the least.”

After the race, Masi sought to explain a number of his decisions and the offer which was made to Red Bull to give Verstappen’s place back to Hamilton.

“It’s very much a normal discussion that happens regularly on a number of occasions and has [done] all year, and previously,” Masi said.

“I wouldn’t call it a deal, as from a race director’s perspective I have no authority to instruct the teams to do anything in that situation. I can give them an offer, [I have] the ability to do that but the choice is theirs.

“The stewards are obviously empowered to give penalties, but I can give them my perspective. That’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up.”

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