F1: Red Bull chief criticizes new rule of climbing pit wall

Melbourne, Australia –

Red Bull principal Christian Horner has criticized a stricter interpretation of a rule banning F1 team employees from climbing the pitwall to celebrate a victory.

Horner said he will call off his ‘symbolic’ celebrations at Friday’s Australian Grand Prix after the FIA ​​issued a new safety memo ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, the third in this year’s series. said F1 would lose.

F1 race director Niels Wittig has issued instructions that “climbing the pitwall debris fence is prohibited at all times”.

Safety orders state that team personnel are only allowed into the pit lane just before or after work is required on the car and must leave as soon as the work is completed.

“Any action by a team that violates this ban will be reported to the stewards,” the statement read.

Horner looked embarrassed by the crackdown after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set the fastest lap time in the first practice session at the Albert Park circuit.

“I’m surprised it was an issue, to be honest, but I think anything related to safety obviously has to be taken very seriously,” he said. “But as long as it’s done in a safe manner, seeing a Grand Prix car finish a Grand Prix and that team celebrating at the fence is a pretty iconic moment. I personally don’t care about that. ‘It’s always been a part of Grand Prix racing. ”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown said he did not know what caused the crackdown as the team faces the possibility of being penalized for infractions.

“I don’t know exactly what prompted the need to change it,” he said. It’s very important and potentially unsafe, and if they feel it’s a rule, we’ll stick to it.”

Horner, meanwhile, said he is happy Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez will face off on the track, but must remember that the teams come first. The season has been the subject of significant debate, with the two splitting the first two races of the year in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Verstappen leads the drivers’ championship by one point after setting the fastest lap in Jeddah two weeks ago to score a bonus point.

Perez has made it clear that he wants to challenge for the championship, and Horner said it’s okay for his teammates to keep pushing each other.

“[Sergio’s]confidence is very high. That’s what we want. We want two drivers who push and challenge each other,” he said. “They are competitive animals and both are ultimately racing drivers. But they know the rules of engagement, especially at this stage of the year, which is team first.”

Meanwhile, the FIA, the organizing body, said it had completed an investigation into the bizarre circumstances in which Alonso was demoted to fourth in Jeddah for a starting grid violation, but quickly reversed the decision after an appeal.

The FIA ​​has clarified the wording of the rules relating to ‘work on the machine’ and how it will be regulated, widening the starting grid boxes for the Australian Grand Prix.

After dominating the first two races, Red Bull were the pacesetters in both practice sessions on Friday. Verstappen’s time of 1 minute and 18.790 seconds was the fastest of both sessions, and he was 0.433 seconds faster than his seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the first practice run. .

Heavy rain hit Albert Park midway through the second practice on a tricky day for drivers as the Red Bull pair lost control in the first session.

Fernando Alonso, who finished third for Aston Martin in the first two races, set a best time of 1:18.887 in the second practice session. 2022 Australian Grand Prix-winning Ferrari Charles Leclerc was second fastest, with Verstappen third, 0.615s slower.

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