Max Verstappen believes Michael Masi’s removal from the post of F1 race director was very ‘unfair’.
Reigning Formula 1 world champion, Max Verstappen has come out in support of former Race Director Michael Masi, claiming that he has been put under the bus and that the decision fire him was very ‘unfair.’
This comes after a controversial finish to the 2021 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi Grand where Max Verstappen claimed his maiden F1 title after edging out Lewis Hamilton in the final laps of the title decider.
Race control was dragged to the centre of the controversy following the actions of the Race Director, Michael Masi during Safety Car period that seemed to favour Verstappen.
Masi’s decision to break the normal Safety Car rules in the closing stages of last December’s season finale to give fans a one-lap shootout between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton sparked an FIA investigation and a series of decisions that have resulted in a reorganization of Formula One’s race direction for 2022.
It was decided that a stronger support structure around the race director was required, therefore Masi was replaced by a new team of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will alternate the role, with Charlie Whiting’s old deputy Herbie Blash serving as backup.
While the majority of F1 fans agreed that Masi’s conduct in Yas Marina was inappropriate, Verstappen believes the sanction imposed on the former race director was “unfair.”
“I think it’s not correct,” said the Red Bull driver on Thursday in Barcelona.
“Everyone always tries to do the best job, everyone can always use help.”
“Like us drivers also – we have the whole team behind us, we prove it ourselves. For me, it’s very unfair what happened to Michael – he was really being thrown under the bus.”
“Of course, people talk a lot about what was decided in Abu Dhabi, but can you imagine a referee in whatever sport has a coach or equivalent screaming in his ear all the time, yellow card, red card, no foul… it’s impossible to make a decision.”
“So I think in the first place that F1 already allowed that, that team members could talk to him while making decisions, is very wrong because it needed to be Michael making the decisions on his own without having people screaming in his ear.
“For those who sacked him to allow that in the first place is, for me, unacceptable and I found it really incredible.”
“I feel really sorry for Michael because I think he was a very capable and good race director.”
“I have nothing against the new race directors because I think they are also very capable and very good race directors.”
Verstappen said that, unlike when Whiting was race director, Masi did not have any help around him, something he believes Masi might have benefited from, while also citing his own career to demonstrate the value of experience.
He went on to say that Masi was a “very capable and good race director,” and that he had called him after the decision.
“But personally, for Michael, I felt very sad and I sent him a text as well. Not the right decision and especially, if you put someone next to him… after Charlie died, it is very hard to take over from someone like him.”
“He had so much experience from previous years and also, Charlie had help around him and maybe Michael just needed a little bit more.”
“Everyone needs experience. When I came into the sport, my first year, if I look at it now, I was a complete rookie. I am so much further than what I was back then and I think it would have been the same for Michael.”
“To immediately sack him, for me, was not the right decision but I wish him all the best for whatever comes next. I hope it is better than being an F1 race director.”