Stinging reason behind Red Bull's stunning F1 media boycott

Max Verstappen is pictured at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Red Bull champion Max Verstappen boycotted Sky Sports after comments from F1 pundit Ted Kravitz. (Photo by Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has lifted the lid on why the team supported F1 champion Max Verstappen's recent boycott of certain media, after the legitimacy of his 2021 triumph was questioned.

Both Verstappen and other Red Bull personnel declined to participate in interviews with Sky Sports during last weekend's Mexico GP.

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Their reason for doing so was a segment from Sky F1 pundit Ted Kravitz in the wake of the prior United States GP, in which Verstappen beat out 2021 title rival and seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes and Hamilton are yet to win a race in 2022 after the introduction of new aerodynamic rules this season, but had their closest shot yet a fortnight ago in Austin.

The pain of having to follow Verstappen home as he won a second drivers championship on the hop was summarised by Kravitz in his 'Ted's Notebook' segment, claiming Hamilton had been 'robbed' in 2021.

“Seven-time world champion – I almost said eight-time world champion – seven-time world champion goes into the final race trying to be the greatest of all time, and win (the) championship,” Kravitz said.

“He gets robbed, comes back, his next year’s car is rubbish … doesn’t win a race all year, and then finally comes back at a track where he could win the first race all year, battling the same guy who won the race he was robbed in the previous year, and manages to finish ahead of him.”

Red Bull described the references to Hamilton being 'robbed' by the controversial finish to the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP as 'derogatory', while Horner was happy to explain further.

While the team will now drop the boycott, Horner said he hoped a message had been sent regarding the tone of discussion when it came to Hamilton and Verstappen's rivalry.

“There needs to be balance in commentary. Some of the commentary is excellent, but some of the pieces, there’s too much sensationalism," he said.

“We stand together as a team. We just want to set an example and show that some things are not acceptable.

“It had nothing to do with this weekend, but this year has been a constant kind of like digging and being disrespectful, especially from one particular person.

“At some point, it’s enough, I don’t accept it. You can’t live in the past, you just have to move on."

Max Verstappen sets new record for wins in an F1 season

The 25-year-old Dutch driver led from pole position at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday, stopping on lap 26 of 71 to switch from soft to medium tyres and taking the chequered flag 15.186 seconds clear of Hamilton.

"It's been an incredible year so far, we are definitely enjoying it and we'll try to go for more," said Verstappen, who clinched his second world title in Japan on October 9 and had an untroubled afternoon.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez finished third in front of his cheering home crowd after a race that was low on thrills and all about tyre strategy.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are pictured on the F1 podium after the Mexico Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen edged out Lewis Hamilton for victory at the Mexican Grand Prix last weekend. (Photo by Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo put on the show of the day, reeling off overtakes on the soft tyres and finishing seventh for McLaren despite a 10-second penalty for causing a collision with AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda.

Verstappen's win was his fourth in Mexico and the podium was the same as last year.

In Austin, Texas, last weekend he had pulled level with German champions Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013) on 13 wins in a season - with his latest win pulling him clear of his fellow F1 greats.

There are more races now than then, however, with the 2022 season featuring 22 compared to 19 in 2013 and 18 in 2004.

Verstappen also took his points tally to 416 - 136 more than Perez who moved up to second overall and three more than the previous record set by Hamilton in 2019.

It was also a ninth win in a row and 16th from 20 races for Red Bull, who wrapped up the constructors' title in Texas with three rounds to spare, but Mercedes showed they were getting closer.

With AAP

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