Christian Horner backs Max Verstappen over Red Bull Sky Sports boycott

Sport

The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has backed Max Verstappen in criticising some of Sky Sports’ Formula One coverage. Verstappen and Red Bull boycotted Sky at the Mexican Grand Prix to register their unhappiness with comments regarding the Dutch driver’s controversial title-winning race at Abu Dhabi last year.

Verstappen won in Mexico City on Sunday – a record 14th victory this season – but refused to speak to Sky. He was angry with a comment the Sky broadcaster Ted Kravitz had made at the US GP stating Lewis Hamilton had been “robbed” of an eighth world championship last year.

After winning in Mexico, Verstappen was clear that he had had enough. “If you keep disrespecting me I am not tolerating it any more and that is why I decided to stop answering,” he said.

Horner said Red Bull stood behind their driver and that he, too, felt Sky were not being fair to his team. “There were some derogatory comments made so we took a break from Sky for this race,” he said.

“Max was upset. We were upset and we made the decision to stand together as a team. It won’t have done Sky any harm for us to lay down a marker. Some of the commentary is fair but some pieces are sensationalist and saying we robbed anyone of the championship, as was said in Austin, is going too far. It is not impartial or fair or balanced.”

Sky has renewed its contract with F1 for exclusive rights to the sport in the UK until 2029 but has yet to comment on the row with Red Bull.

At the season-deciding Abu Dhabi GP in 2021, Hamilton was set for a victory that would have sealed his eighth title when the then race director Michael Masi improvised around the rules of the safety car deployment in the final laps and Verstappen won the race. Masi was subsequently removed from his post and the FIA cited “human error” in its report on the incident.

Horner confirmed the team would resume interacting with Sky at the next round in Brazil but clearly hoped the boycott would influence the broadcaster in future. “There needs to be balance in commentary,” he said. “Some of the commentary is excellent, but some of the pieces, there’s too much sensationalisation being done.”

Hamilton finished second in Mexico and his teammate, George Russell, in fourth, with Mercedes delivering their most competitive performance of the season. But the team principal, Toto Wolff, warned they still faced a huge task to come back at Red Bull next season.

“Red Bull have had nine wins in a row. There is no reason to be overwhelmed with finishing second and fourth,” he said. “We have a long way to catch up. We have the winter, we are doing good development in the car. Some of the things we are finding might be bigger steps than adding a few points of downforce. We are giving it everything and more to bring us back into a position to fight for a championship.”