Horner tears into ‘ludicrous’ FIA decision which could cause crashes

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Christian Horner has criticised the FIA for an “absolutely ludicrous” decision which could affect Max Verstappen. Horner hit out at bosses’ decisions to run a sprint race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which he feels could “trash” cars.

Baku’s street circuit is renowned for incidents with seven safety cars recorded in the six races held at the track. Meanwhile, there have been three virtual safety car periods and two red flags, making it one of the most dangerous circuits on the calendar.

Speaking in the team principal’s press conference, Horner said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first sprint race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan. From a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting sprint races of the year.

“But from a cost cap perspective, all you can do is trash your car. And it costs a lot of money around there. So one race is enough in Baku, the fact that we’ve got two, there could be well some action there.

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“But that’s part of the challenge, and it’s part of the task that we’ve got. Hopefully, we can tidy up the format for the sprint races coming up, that they are a bit more dynamic.

“I know that the sporting directors have been working hard on that and hopefully we can get that finalised. A sprint race in Azerbaijan is something to be certainly wary of.”

Verstappen crashed in Baku in 2021 after suffering a puncture in the closing stages. Rival team bosses shared concerns around the next event in Baku but stopped short of calling out the governing body.

Aston Martin boss Mike Krack claimed there was “some nervousness” about the event due to the risk of damage. However, Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer and McLaren’s Zak Brown highlighted the history of great racing at the venue which would add to the entertainment.

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Brown commented: “Baku creates some pretty exciting races and some big crash damage bills. It’s the same for everyone, and it is what it is. It’ll be very exciting for the fans, and hopefully all the cars will come back the way they started.”

Azerbaijan will host the first of six sprint races in 2023 after F1 bosses decided to double the quantity ahead of the new campaign. The shorter sprint races will also be held in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States and Brazil.

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