“The people who allowed what was wrong have now fired him”: Max Verstappen explains how F1 and the team bosses used Michael Masi as a scapegoat before removing him from his role

Somin Bhattacharjee
|Published 26/02/2022

Max Verstappen insists that removing Michael Masi from his role as race director was wrong and suggests that the problem lies elsewhere.

The controversy surrounding the end of the 2021 season was somewhat put to rest after Michael Masi’s sacking last week. The Australian race director was under heavy fire for his questionable calls during the final few laps in Abu Dhabi last December.

FIA launched an inquiry into the matter after widespread backlash. Last week, they introduced a series of rule changes for 2022 and beyond, to avoid a repeat of Abu Dhabi. Along with those rule changes, the governing body also announced that Masi would no longer be race director.

Over the last few weeks, some notable figures within the sport were calling for his departure. They felt that the 44-year old could not repair his image within the paddock after what unfolded in Yas Island. However, there were several others who came to the defense of Masi.

The likes of Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso repeatedly insisted that the problem was bigger than Masi. For a long time, rules enforced in F1 were plagued with inconsistency and a bigger change has been due for a long time.

Another driver who spoke out in favor of Masi was 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen. Verstappen said that the decision to remove Masi from his role does not sit right with him.

Also read: Red Bull boss expects Lewis Hamilton to face stiff competition from George Russell at Mercedes in 2022

Max Verstappen blames F1 for all the backlash Michael Masi received after the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen feels that team bosses being allowed to talk to Masi mid-race, influenced a lot of decisions made by him. Some worked in his favor whereas some helped his rival Lewis Hamilton.

However, the fact that they were allowed to communicate with him mid-race, put a lot of pressure on Masi. On top of that, the Aussie had to replace Charlie Whiting as race director. Whiting was a well loved veteran within the F1 ranks, and filling his boots wasn’t going to be easy for anyone.

“It was unfair what happened to him,” said the Red Bull driver. “Imagine a referee on the soccer field, constantly having the coaches screaming in his year.”

“That F1 allowed team bosses to do that to him was already wrong. He couldn’t make good decisions that way. The people who allowed that have now fired him, I find that unbelievable,” he added.

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will alternatively act as F1 race directors this season. They will be aided by Herbie Blash as ‘permanent senior advisor’.

Also read: Charles Leclerc and Ferrari share an honest assessment of their three days of pre-season testing in Barcelona

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About the author
Somin Bhattacharjee

Somin Bhattacharjee

Somin Bhattacharjee is an F1 writer at The SportsRush. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and aims to work in the sports industry for the rest of his life. Somin has been a fan of Scuderia Ferrari since 2010 and his favorite driver is none another than the great Fernando Alonso. Other than longing for a Ferrari Championship win once again, Somin spends his free time playing football and basketball.

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