There is plenty to talk about when it comes to the 2022 Formula One season. Whether it be the ongoing car development issues, the use and priority of some country tracks over others, lingering angst.
Even irritation given the manner of how Max Verstappen lifted his first ever Formula One World Drivers’ Championship or even the current jewellery-gate issues that once again surround Mercedes driver and seven time Championship winner Lewis Hamilton.
Following the controversy caused by the Mystino manner of use of the safety car, which effectively closed and removed Lewis Hamilton’s ten-second advantage over Max Verstappen in the final 2021 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
This allowed the Dutchman to take the lead in the final lap to lift his first-ever Formula One World Drivers’ Championship. Michael Masi’s decision making was quickly under scrutiny and having been moved aside from his role as race director following an internal inquiry that blamed ‘human error’ for the failure to follow Formula One Sporting Regulations.
Hamilton can probably be forgiven for thinking the sport has it in for him given all the talk about jewellery in the build up to the Miami Grand Prix.
Hamilton agreed to remove his earrings in the car ahead of the race, and Grand Prix Drivers’ Association Chairman Alex Wurz has stood by the rules that are in place, but has conceded that the approach taken by race director Niels Wittich should have been handed better.
Speaking this week, the ex-F1 driver explained: “It is a rule for the right reasons, I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.”
Given the rules are long standing but have rarely been enforced, it seems a strange thing to have cracked down on following on from last years controversy as few would disagree with Hamilton’s comment that the sport has ‘bigger fish to fry’.
He’s certainly not wrong as last week, governing body president Mohammed ben Sulayem confirmed that he was open to seeing Michael Masi return to the sport in a fresh role: “Michael is there and we might use him. We are open to everything.”
According to Express, this has left Hamilton and his advisors absolutely ‘astonished’ and as the news broke he was understandably making ‘urgent phone calls’ given how he was undoubtedly robbed of an eighth title by Masi’s race handling.
It seems many people interested in Formula One had not been aware of a previous statement by Ben Sulayem dating back to February of this year, when he initially stated that the FIA had future plans for Masi despite his clear and obvious error.
“Michael Masi, who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as Formula 1 race director following Charlie Whiting, will be offered a new position within the FIA.”
With Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff publicly backing Masi’s dismissal and recently admitting that the two had met ahead of the Abu Dhabi race, wherein Wolff explained: “I had lunch with [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race.
“I said to him that, ‘I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you are guy who always seems to know better’. It wasn’t about influencing him. But really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong,” added Wolff.