Horner's hollow grumble
Last Sunday, Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen crashed at the Silverstone Circuit in a very happening F1 weekend, to say the least. In the midst of a fiery British Grand Prix battle, Hamilton and Verstappen bumped tires in the very first lap sending Red Bull’s car into the crash barriers creating a 51G impact. The race was red-flagged and an evidently dazed Verstappen was flown off to a nearby hospital for precautionary check-ups. Hamilton was handed a 10-second penalty by the stewards, the second most lenient penalty possible, which he took on his first stop in the pits. Hamilton claimed multiple times, during and after the event that he was alongside Verstappen, who was clearly ahead of him. Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, was noticeably disgruntled with Hamilton’s move on the speedy Copse corner, leaving Verstappen ‘massively winded’ by the accident. Horner went as far as labelling it a ‘hollow victory’ for Hamilton. Both the drivers involved seemed a bit too adrenaline-charged in a battle that ended with an unfortunate accident which many pundits and fans labelled a racing incident.
Red Bull, especially Horner, are apparently not ready to deem the accident an isolated incident and are not ready to move on. From the very moment the rear right medium tyre flew off Red Bull’s rim on the Copse corner, Horner has been the centre of focus as he complains, criticises, throws in sarcastic jibes, and some misplaced statements that Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff said were uncalled for and very personal.
Verstappen has seemingly taken it on the chin like a true sportsperson should when the day does not end in a favourable result. Meanwhile, the Red Bull chief is apparently still dwelling on the incident, even days after the event.
“Had Max made it through Copse, I don't think Hamilton would have seen 0him again that afternoon as he learned in the previous day’s Sprint Race. No matter how experienced or talented, all drivers experience a build-up of pressure at times and this was a moment of extreme pressure for Hamilton in the championship, becoming the hunter as opposed to the hunted, and in front of his home crowd who saw him defeated the previous day at a track that has always been a Mercedes stronghold. We all know that these situations can bring out a different driving style and one that is not characteristic of a world champion, but it is at these times that we see the increased risk,” Horner wrote in his column published by Red Bull, five days after the event.
Red Bull has estimated the damage to be around $1.8million, an amount they think will have massive ramifications for them in this cost-capped era. Regarding the 10-second penalty issued to Hamilton by the stewards, Horner thinks Wolff had tried to ‘lobby the jury’ by emailing some details about the crash to Michael Masi, the race director while the incident was still being reviewed.
“Having heard that Toto was lobbying the stewards, I went up to see them and raised the point that neither of us should be there,” wrote Horner. Red Bull are still looking into the leniency of the penalty and reviewing the available data while also considering their options for an appeal.
Hamilton’s attack on the first lap seemingly flustered the leading Red Bull driver who made a racing decision to narrow the track on the approaching Mercedes which resulted in an unwanted situation for the Dutch driver and his team. That was nearly all that happened; it was not the first accident of its kind in Formula 1 and very surely not the last, owing to the competitive nature of the sport. Red Bull should be looking forward to the remaining races and available points this season with their team and their driver, who is still in the lead on both the tables.