FORMULA 1

Is Red Bull’s boycott of Sky Sports unnecessary?

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You would anticipate that when a team has a season that shatters the records, the accolades would outweigh the inevitable criticisms.

There will always be criticism. The proverb “You can’t please everyone all of the time” has been around for a very long time—literally centuries before Formula 1 even came into force.

And particularly in a sport where the polarization of its fan base today equals that of football.

Red Bull has won 16 races so far in 2022 and is on course to match McLaren’s record of 11 straight victories from 1988. With a sprint in Brazil to increase the overall tally, they may potentially surpass Mercedes’ record of 765 points in a single season.

Of course, they have already rewritten the record books as Max Verstappen broke the record for most wins in a single season with 14 victories under his belt, surpassing the previous record of 13, jointly set by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

But, as a result of the recent events, there is a general perception that Red Bull has damaged a campaign that unquestionably restored them to the peak of the F1.

Most of that is linked to the budget-cap controversy. Irrespective of your opinion of the conclusion, the FIA has dealt with it, and performances next year may still show the consequences.

While this was grabbing the headlines, why would Red Bull risk damaging their brand by refusing to communicate with Sky Sports at the Mexican Grand Prix?

It all came down to remarks allegedly made on Sky about the title-deciding race in Abu Dhabi last year, where the word “robbed” was used in reference to Lewis Hamilton as he was denied a record-breaking eighth world championship by Verstappen.

But even if he was robbed, was he robbed by Verstappen or Red Bull? Absolutely not. Nobody could argue that they did not have a hand in any of this; all they did was an attempt to win the race, which they did. However, the calls made by Race Control, which provided them with the opportunity to do so, were the suspect.

Did that justify their boycott of the sport’s main broadcaster for the duration of an entire race weekend? And not just the English broadcast but also their German and Italian counterparts.

Words like silly, petty, and unnecessary come to mind.

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