Max Verstappen slams ‘unfair’ and ‘unbelievable’ decision to replace Michael Masi as F1 race director


“Very unfair”. “Unacceptable”. “Not the right decision”. Max Verstappen expresses his fury as he talks about the replacement of F1 race director Michael Masi following the FIA ​​investigation into the Abu Dhabi GP decider last year

Last update: 02/24/22 2:19 p.m.

Max Verstappen has blasted the decision to drop Michael Masi as F1 race director, calling it ‘very unfair’ and insisting the Australian was ‘thrown under the bus’ by the FIA ​​after the final controversy of the Abu Dhabi GP.

Following an investigation into last year’s title decider, which Verstappen won over Lewis Hamilton after highly scrutinized decisions from Masi in the closing stages, the FIA ​​revealed a restructuring of refereeing earlier this month, with Masi replaced by two race directors who will rotate through the season.

Speaking publicly for the first time since that announcement, Verstappen told the media during pre-season testing: “To me it’s very unfair what happened to Michael because he was really thrown under the bus. “

Explaining his view, Verstappen questioned whether F1 and the sport’s governing body FIA had cleared team personnel – such as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red’s Christian Horner Bull – to communicate with the race director during the race.

Formula 1 expert Karun Chandhok says former race director Michael Masi made a mistake in Abu Dhabi but believes the system hasn't helped solve the problem either.

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Formula 1 expert Karun Chandhok says former race director Michael Masi made a mistake in Abu Dhabi but believes the system hasn’t helped solve the problem either.

Formula 1 expert Karun Chandhok says former race director Michael Masi made a mistake in Abu Dhabi but believes the system hasn’t helped solve the problem either.

“Of course people talk a lot about what happened in Abu Dhabi, but can you imagine a referee in any sport having a coach, or equivalent, shouting at him all the time? ‘hear ?” said Verstappen.

“‘Yellow card, red card, no decision, no foul!’. It’s impossible to make a decision.

“I think in the first place that F1 has already allowed this, [that] team members can talk to him while making decisions, that’s very wrong, because Michael had to make the decisions on his own, without people shouting in his ear.”

Verstappen added: “[The fact] the people who fired him allowed it in the first place, to me that’s unacceptable.

“Now they’ve sacked him and I think that’s really incredible. I’m really sorry for Michael because I think he was a really capable and good race director.”

Drivers seated next to Verstappen at the press conference – including Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc – also expressed their support for Masi.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is pleased with the start of his side's pre-season testing in Barcelona.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is pleased with the start of his side’s pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is pleased with the start of his side’s pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Masi, who now takes on a safety role with the FIA, has been replaced by Niels Wittich, former DTM race director, and Eduardo Freitas, WEC race director, with the pair acting alternately as F1 race directors.

“I have nothing against the new race directors because I think they are also very capable and good race directors, but for Michael I felt really sad and I texted him as well,” said Verstappen. “Not the right decision.”

Masi had been race director since the death of Charlie Whiting in 2019.

“I think if you had someone next to him…” Verstappen continued.

“After Charlie’s death it’s very difficult to succeed someone like him, he had so much experience from previous years and Charlie also had help around him. Maybe Michael just needed some help. ‘a bit more ?

“But everyone needs experience. I came into this sport as a complete beginner, and now I’m so much further [ahead] than when I was then and I think it would have been the same for Michael.

“Firing him immediately for me is not the right decision, but I wish him the best for the future and hope it’s better than being race director in F1.”




Sky Sports

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