max verstappen defends masi f1 2022

Verstappen: Masi was really thrown under the bus

max verstappen defends masi f1 2022

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen defended deposed race director Michael Masi, saying he had been “thrown under the bus” by the FIA in its response to the controversial title-deciding safety car call at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The sport’s ruling body announced a raft of changes to the refereeing process governing its races last week, including replacing Masi with two new alternating race directors.

The Australian is to be offered another role within the organisation.

“For me it’s very unfair what happened to Michael because he’s really been thrown under the bus,” declared Verstappen, who seized the race lead and title from Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton after Masi’s decision to move only the lapped cars between the two drivers out of the way played into his hands.

“To immediately sack him for me is not the right decision but I wish him all the best with whatever comes next and I hope it is better than being an F1 race director,” the Red Bull driver, who said he had texted Masi, told a news conference during pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Masi was promoted to the race director role after highly respected predecessor Charlie Whiting died suddenly on the eve of the 2019 season.

Max: Personally for Michael, I felt really sad

Masi was under pressure in Abu Dhabi to deliver at least one final lap of racing between the title protagonists – Verstappen and Hamilton – after a late crash triggered the safety car, with the pair having gone into the decider level on points.

He also had to contend with Mercedes and Red Bull bosses repeatedly calling and lobbying him on the radio in the heat of the moment. The finale was watched by over 108 million viewers worldwide.

“Of course, people talk about what was decided in Abu Dhabi,” said Verstappen. “But can you imagine the referee in whatever sport has the coach or equivalent screaming in his ear all the time – yellow card, red card, no decision, no foul – it’s impossible to make a decision.

“(That) the people who did sack him allowed that in the first place for me is unacceptable and now basically just sacked him.”

Verstappen said he had nothing against the new race directors, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who come with lots of experience in German series DTM and sportscar racing’s World Endurance Championship.

“But, personally for Michael, I felt really sad,” added Verstappen. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle)