Azerbaijan gets F1 green light

  • Last Updated: July 25 2014, 20:34 BST

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner launched an astonishing tirade against the Formula One media on Friday as he attempted to defend Azerbaijan's forthcoming inclusion on the calendar.

Christian Horner insisted that the press conference focus was all wrong
Christian Horner insisted that the press conference focus was all wrong

Horner, along with his counterparts in Ferrari's Marco Mattiacci, McLaren's Eric Boullier, Vijay Mallya from Force India, Sauber's Monish Kaltenborn and Claire Williams from Williams, faced several tricky questions during the FIA team principals' press conference.

When the focus switched towards why Formula One ventures into areas that are suspect given the human rights record of certain countries, including Azerbaijan, Horner turned on his inquisitor, and the F1 press in general.

"This is becoming a very depressing press conference where we're focused on the negativities," said an exasperated Horner.

"Look, there is a calendar that comes out in October and November and we all have a choice whether we enter the world championship or not.

"All the people sitting here are racers and they are here because they are passionate about the sport and 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, or the vast majority, will be at those races, and why? Because you are either passionate about the sport or because you earn a living out of covering the sport.

"It is wrong to make Formula One a political subject. We are a sport, we should be talking about the drivers in these conferences, about the spectacular racing between our drivers and his driver (pointing to Mattiacci) at the last grand prix (in Germany).

"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 fend off these questions.

"How about asking some questions about what's going to happen in the race on Sunday, about what's going to happen in qualifying tomorrow.

"If you've got these (other) questions then please point them at Mr (Jean) Todt or Mr (Bernie) Ecclestone rather than the teams."

Azerbaijan joins the calendar in 2016 and has been given the name of Grand Prix of Europe as F1 further expands its reach into the eastern part of the continent given Russia debuts later this year.

With Mexico due to return next season after what will be a 23-year absence, the team principals were in agreement the new races were a positive for the sport.

Horner added: "It's great to be going back to Mexico...Azerbaijan is an exciting new venue, new country to be visiting.

"Of course there are only so many races we can accommodate in a year, but it's very healthy for Formula One to have such competition for these places on the calendar.

"It's great news for the teams, the sport, and they will be of great interest."

As for Mallya, he said: "Fantastic news, the more the Formula One canvas expands across the world the better it is for the sport, teams and sponsors."

Mattiacci, meanwhile, added: "It's a great opportunity.

"First of all Mexico is a country with a great tradition of racing, who have had amazing drivers in Formula One and is one of the upcoming economies in America.

"It's good we keep promoting the brand. Formula One needs to reach new audiences, so it's going to be another big effort.

"Stretching the championship to many races means more investment on our side, so that opens another discussion, but I'm positive."