The FIA award giving gala might be a formal event but Christian Horner and Mohammed Ben Sulayem managed to make it more amusing with their onstage exchange.
Christian Horner was delivering a speech after receiving Red Bull’s 2022 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship trophy, when he referred to the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, regarding how the points for the interrupted race were awarded which meant confusion regarding whether Max Verstappen secured his second Title or not.
“He was a fan of motorsport, foremost and utmost,” Horner said paying tribute to Red Bull’s late founder Dietrich Mateschitz. “He gave so many drivers in the room tonight an opportunity in so many categories.
“He gave thousands of engineers and technicians, mechanics and I think arguably has done more for motorsport than any other person in history. So tonight, I’d like to dedicate this to Dietrich Mateschitz.
“Thankfully he saw Max win the championship in Japan, even though there was a bit of confusion over the points there, thankfully, Max won it early and he saw it. And then the next weekend, the day after he passed, we managed to win this trophy. So it’s a very special one,” he added.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was not amused by Horner’s reference and went responded on the spot which led to one of the most awkward moments in this season with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali having a front row seat of the incident.
“Thank you, Christian,” Ben Sulayem began. “First of all, you deserve it, the manufacturer and for Max. Secondly you said about Dietrich, I drove with Red Bull sponsorship in my last championship and one thing you said about Japan…
“Japan you said was controversial, no! The FIA was blamed for the points but it was not the FIA which made the rules, it was the teams who made the rules and we were implementing it,” he added.
That pushed Domenicali to try and defuse the situation saying: “Ok, ok guys, let’s stay focused!”