Bad call in Abu Dhabi would make “mockery” of F1 stewarding - Horner

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has warned that a poor call from Formula 1’s stewards at the world championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would “make a mockery of the policing of the world championship”. 
Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference.
Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal in the FIA Press…
© FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use

Title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enter this weekend’s final race of the season tied on points with F1 set for an extraordinary winner-takes-all championship showdown in Abu Dhabi. 

Verstappen is going for his maiden world title, while Hamilton can win a record-breaking eighth crown if he finishes ahead of the Red Bull driver on Sunday.

Following several on-track collisions between the championship protagonists, FIA race director Michael Masi issued a reminder that points could be deducted if either driver is found guilty of a breach of F1’s sporting code. 

F1 stewarding has faced criticism after a number of controversial calls in recent events and Red Bull team principal Horner has urged the need for consistency at the Abu Dhabi finale. 

“It just comes back to you wanting consistency of rules,” Horner said on Friday. 

"What happened in Turn 4, what happened wherever it was, should be applied to this race.

"You can’t just go and pluck something out of the air and say ‘yep, that's what will now apply’. Because I think that would make a mockery of the policing of the championship.”

Verstappen, who will win the title on count back if he and Hamilton end the season level on points, claimed on Thursday he has been “treated differently” by F1’s stewards over the season compared to other drivers. 

(L to R): Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference.
(L to R): Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive…
© FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use

Asked about Masi’s warning about a potential points deduction, Horner replied:“It’s one of 22 races. What’s the difference between this race for example, and Silverstone or Hungary? 

“There has to be consistency, there has to be consistency in the stewarding of penalties. And I think that’s the thing that drives people more mad than anything else, when there is perceived to be an inconsistency.

“That piece of the sporting code that’s been highlighted in the notes has always been there. That’s not something that’s just been reintroduced for this weekend.

“Nobody wants to see this championship end up in front of the stewards or in a gravel trap. You want to see these two titans of drivers that have gone wheel to wheel so often this year go at it again this weekend. That’s what as a team we want, as a driver Max wants.

“There needs to be consistency. I can see why Toto [Wolff] and Lewis with the disadvantage of race wins would be pushing for that, but nobody’s going into this race to say it’s gonna end in a crash.

“There’s been great speculation about it. But our focus is on trying to win this on track and do it at the chequered flag.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff feels Masi’s reminder about the prospect of sanctions is a “good deterrent”. 

“I think that with all the controversies we had in the last few races – and again this is probably a matter of different perceptions from different camps – it is very good that Michael and the FIA have come out with a reminder of what the ISC stands for,” Wolff explained.

“And I think this coming out is maybe a good deterrent for everyone to keep the racing clean, what is on and what is not on, that simply not only the real race result will matter for a championship but also the driving standards.”

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