“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
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.
A powerful defence of Michael Masi when I asked LEC, VET, ALO and VER about Michael Masi. @Max33Verstappen called it the ‘wrong decision’ and said he’d been ‘thrown under the bus’ by the FIA…
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) February 24, 2022
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.
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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.
BREAKING! Michael Masi has been replaced as F1 race director for the 2022 season, the FIA has confirmed. pic.twitter.com/JgQ0oGkdKp
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) February 17, 2022
“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’.
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