Horner: If offence was caused I unreservedly apologise

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was given an official warning by Fia after he blamed a “rogue marshal” for Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen’s grid penalty at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

The Briton apologised after the race and also agreed to participate in an international stewards’ programme next February.

Verstappen was given a five-place grid penalty, dropping him from the front row to seventh, after he failed to slow for waved yellow warning flags on his flying lap at the end of Saturday’s qualifying.

The Dutch 24-year-old ended the race in second place, his lead over Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton cut to eight points with two races remaining in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull are five points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, while Verstappen’s lead in the championship has been reduced to

The Fia race stewards said in a statement: “The Stewards heard from the Team Principal (Christian Horner). He explained that his reaction was one that was made under the pressure of competition following the penalty imposed on the driver of Car 33.

“The Stewards explained that the marshal concerned was doing his job in precisely the manner prescribed in the International Sporting Code. Mr Horner offered to apologise to the marshal concerned and to explain to the media that he meant no offense.

“He also offered to participate in the 2022 FIA International Stewards Programme in early February. The Stewards unreservedly accept Mr Horner’s offer.”

Horner, who made his original comments to Sky Sports television before the race, returned to the broadcaster after the hearing to make an apology: “I’d like to make it clear that marshals do a wonderful job and our sport could not operate without them volunteering their time.

“If any offence was caused I unreservedly apologise, my frustration was with the decision that had been made and not with any individual.”

Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff have been engaged in verbal sparring for much of the season but the Briton denied he was feeling the pressure in the intensity of the championship battle.

“I think we’ve actually been pretty good with our emotions,” he said. “I haven’t been pointing and swearing at cameras and that kind of thing.”  (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)