Horner thinks F1 should avoid “equivalent of footballers taking a dive”

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – JULY 04: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on from the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 04, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images). Credit: Red Bull Content Pool.

After numerous penalties at yesterday’s Austrian GP, Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner said that the FIA should avoid cases like in football, where some drivers intentionally cause incidents so that the other driver is penalized.

He is referring to the two penalties against Perex and the one penalty against Norris, who forced the opponent outside the track during defensive maneuvers. Both drivers received 5-second penalties in the process.

The start of the many penalties was made by Lando Norris, who was accused of intentionally forcing Sergio Perez off the track in turn 4. The Mexican, on the other hand, also received two penalties later in the race for allegedly deliberately pushing Charles Leclerc off the track once in turn 4 and once in turn 7.

These penalties and sanctions violate the “let them drive” rule that the FIA has been working with for some time. Horner is now concerned that this has set a bad precedent. He does not want these incidents to become some kind of “normality” at Spielberg, where drivers believe that the easiest way to beat his opponent is to attack on the outside and then call a penalty against him.

“You don’t want the equivalent of footballers taking a dive. I think we need to avoid that.”

“I know it’s incredibly difficult, because we talk about these things very often, and it’s difficult for the race director, but I did feel that maybe the incidents that we did see could have been leant to more racing incidents than been deserving of penalties.”

For Horner, it is clear that drivers know that passing a car on the outside is very risky and that you are at the mercy of the car on the inside.

“The incident between Checo and Lando, that’s racing. You go around the outside, you take the risk, particularly when you’re not in a position of being ahead.

“But I think the FIA, having awarded that [first] penalty, then couldn’t not award a penalty for a very similar move with Charles.”

“These guys have raced in karting from when they were kids and know if you go around the outside you take the risk, particularly if you’re not ahead.”

“So yeah, I think the penalties were a bit harsh and it sort of does slightly go against the ‘let them race’ mantra that we’ve been championing in recent years.”

Regarding the situation with Perez, Horner says that the Mexican has not been too impatient, but that he knew it would be difficult to overtake Norris later.

“I think he knew that it was going to be very hard to pass Lando, because he was so quick on the straight. He was trying to get the move done quickly, and obviously it was a shame at that point to lose your buffer with Mercedes.”

“He then picked up another couple of penalties with Charles. But I think once he managed to get himself past Daniel Ricciardo and into clear air, then he drove incredibly well. He got his head down and built that 10 seconds by the end of the race to Daniel.”

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