(Reuters) – Formula One race director Michael Masi personally referred Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to Qatar Grand Prix stewards for television comments about a ‘rogue marshal’, the Australian said after Sunday’s race.
Horner apologised, was given an official warning and agreed to take part in an international stewards’ programme next February.
“It was a race director referral to the stewards,” Masi told reporters. “I don’t have time to go and search social media in the lead up to a race but I was advised of them (the comments) and referred Christian.
“Christian was very apologetic for his comments and as part of that obviously the stewards’ decision was straightforward.”
Masi said nobody should be criticised for acting in the interests of safety and pointed out that marshals were unpaid volunteers and the sport relied upon them.
“All of them give up a huge amount of time, and without them it won’t happen,” he said.
“That’s the part that a lot of people miss, and I’ll defend every volunteer official and every official around every racetrack around the world that that (criticism) is not accepted.”
Local marshals decide on flag issues while safety car and red flags are called by race control.
Horner said he had spoken out in frustration more at a situation than any individual after his championship leader Max Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty ahead of Sunday’s race.
The Dutch driver was punished after not slowing for waved yellow flags at the end of Saturday’s qualifying when Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri had stopped on track with a puncture and broken wing.
Verstappen finished second in the floodlit night race, won by Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, with his overall lead trimmed to eight points, with two races remaining in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)