The row which saw Red Bull Racing boycott all Sky F1 interviews at the Mexican GP grew further today. The Times’ columnist Matthew Syed has slated Christian Horner for “delusional” behaviour and claims the Red Bull boss “is tarnishing the whole sport of Formula One.”
“Lewis Hamilton was robbed”, opens 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.”
Interpretation error or ‘theft’?
“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,” taunts Syed.
“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.”
“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.”
Horner: ultimate in gracelessness
Syed then blasts Horner for claiming the mental health of Red Bull employees has suffered due to other teams calling them cheats for breaching the cost cap regulations in 2021.
“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.
Syed oversimplifies his argument
This seems a little harsh given the reality of the situation was the likes of McLaren Boss Zak Brown attempting to lobby the FIA during their investigation and process. His letter described “any team” breaking the regulations as “cheating” – knowing full well from an FIA leak Red Bull were in breach.
Brown later denied to Horner’s face it was directed at them, though his comments were not persuasive.
Further Syed clearly has little or no understanding of accounting and audit processes, where at times there are grey areas and categorisation of expenses open to interpretation.
Syed concludes, “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.”
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.
Matthew Syed should apply for a job in Formula One because at times his viscous piece is worth of anything ever recorded of the Piranha club.
Amanda Newey wades into row
In what was a surprising intervention, Adrian Newey’s wife tweeted her disgust to Sayed.
@matthewsyed “What qualifies you to judge me, my husband’s or any member or family member of Red Bull’s mental state? When you get a year of abuse, and you don’t even work for the team, it wears you down. Provoking the fans with toxic journalism adds to the problem.”
Amanda Newey works as an insight officer for Swim England which “help people learn to swim, enjoy the water, and compete in swimming, artistic swimming, water polo and diving.”
Christian Horner has revealed the boycott of Sky F1 was for Mexico City only and ‘normal service will resume’ in Brazil.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 2, 2022