Frustrated Horner tells media to ask Todt and Bernie about controversial venues

The FIA’s regular Friday team personnel press conference was enlivened when a clearly angry Christian Horner told the assembled media that questions about the rights and wrongs of F1 going to Russia and Azerbaijan should be directed to Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone.

Only Claire Williams, Monisha Kaltenborn and Vijya Mallya were prepared to comment about a question on Russia – all saying in essence that it was was up to the FIA – while Horner, Marco Mattiacci and Eric Boullier all preferred not to comment.

When a further question was asked about Azerbaijan, with a punchline of whether they would follow Bernie Ecclestone to North Korea, only Mallya was willing to reply.

“I think we’re racing people, more popularly known as petrolheads,” he said. “We come here to race and to win and to enjoy it. The governance is an international organisation called the FIA. It is up to the FIA to decide where the sport is conducted. I don’t think that the teams, individual participants in the sport, should be holding their individual positions to determine social political issues that you have raised. The FIA is perfectly competent to determine where Formula One should be staged and not be staged.

“You know, it’s a not question of following Bernie. I think the question has been wrongly framed. It’s the commercial rights holder, it’s the FIA. We race where they stage the events. It’s as simple as that.”
When the follow-up question cited issues in Azerbaijan, Horner snapped.

“This is becoming a very depressing press conference as we’re only focusing on the negativities. Look, there’s a calendar that comes out in October or November. We all have a choice whether we enter the World Championship or not. All the people sitting here are racers and they’re here because they’re passionate about the sport and they want to compete. When we sign up for that championship, we put our faith and trust in the promoter and the FIA and we will attend those races unless they deem it unnecessary for us to be there.

“All of you will be at those races, or the vast majority of you will be at those races and why, because you’re either passionate about the sport or because you earn a living out of covering the sport and I think it’s wrong to make Formula One a political statement or subject when we are a sport. We should be talking about the drivers in these conferences, we should be talking about the spectacular racing that happened between our drivers and his [Mattiacci’s] driver at the last Grand Prix.

“We should be talking about what a great race it was for Lewis Hamilton to come through the grid, yet all we do is focus on the negatives and it has to be said, it gets pretty boring for us to sit up here and field these questions. So how about asking some questions about what’s going to happen in the race on Sunday, what’s going to happen in qualifying tomorrow, because if you’ve got these questions, please point them at Mr Todt or Mr Ecclestone rather than the teams.”

While Horner does have a point clearly the Russian issue in particular will not go away, and it could become a matter for the teams and their sponsors as the October date draws closer.

This writer did indeed ask Bernie about Russia last week, and his views are here:


Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

3 responses to “Frustrated Horner tells media to ask Todt and Bernie about controversial venues

  1. VV

    So, it’s nothing to do with any of them and they have no opinions at all about anything. Which presumably means that they would go to North Korea if Bernie said so (because Bernie is always right, apparently), and they’d no doubt also go to Syria, Iran and the areas of Iraq controlled by ISIS and areas of Nigeria controlled by Boko Haram.

    Sometimes F1 depresses me.

    • Peterg

      This a perennial question that is raised about Olympic host nations and even individual entrants at the Olympics. The answer is always, it’s sport not politics, the two should not mix. The only problem is that sport, today, is actually big buisness, with F1 a perfect example.

      Where do you draw the line with F1 venues? If Russia’s behaviour in the Ukraine, and Azerbaijan’s corruption are disqualifiers it’s going to be a limited grid. China’s human rights record is appalling, Abu Dhabi and the Gulf states allow sexual slavery, migrant labourers are treated like slaves. Bahrain led a brutal repression of its own citizens. F1 pulled out while the bullets were still flying and returned as soon as the fighting stopped.

      An argument could be made against the USA having a race. F1 and it’s fans had no problem over looking Iraq, America’s hands are not lily white on this subject either.

      Is what Putin’s doing worse than Bush? I don’t have an answer, the line seems to very faint when it comes to drawing it.

  2. Brian

    Dear Mr. Horner, you and your cohorts are the most senior members of the Formula One enterprise that are regularly available to the press. John Todt hides. Bernie is flippant, arrogant, and irrelevant at best. So guess what, dude, you’re it! If you want the press to question Todt & Ecclestone instead of you then get those two guys out there for them to be questioned. Until then, it’s you.

    VV, F1 depresses me more than “sometimes”. They surely are the poster children for Myopia and willful blindness.

    And I have little doubt that the answer is “yes, we would indeed follow Bernie to North Korea. He just gives us far too much money to go against his wishes. We be whores.”


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