Max Verstappen says Michael Masi was ‘thrown under the bus’ by FIA

Max Verstappen says decisions made under pressure and with outsiders exerting influence makes it only natural that not everybody will agree.

Max Verstappen with the F1 driver's championship trophy. (Image: Twitter/ Red Bull Racing Honda)
By Amruth Kalidas | Feb 25, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Max Verstappen has given his backing to former Formula One race director Michael Masi, saying it was “unfair” that he was sacked from his role and suggesting he needed better support from the people who appointed him in the first place.

The Red Bull racer was the direct beneficiary of Masi’s final notable decision, when he opted to unlap only the cars between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton before the final race of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of the 2021 season.

Verstappen then surged past Hamilton to claim the race and win the title in the process, setting into motion a chain of events which included rumours of Hamilton retiring, a new set of protocols for decision-making over F1 rules in-races and a changing of the guard with Masi disposed of as race director.

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But the Belgian-Dutch driver says decisions made under pressure and with outsiders exerting influence makes it only natural that not everybody will agree with the outcome.

“Of course people talk about what was decided in Abu Dhabi but can you imagine a 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,” Verstappen said.

“That F1 allowed that team members could talk to him while making decisions is very wrong. It needed to be Michael making decisions on his own without people screaming in his ear.

“The people who sacked him allowed that in the first place. For me (that) is unacceptable and now to sack him I find it really incredible.

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“I feel very sorry for Michael because he was very capable and a good race director. I have nothing against the new race directors. They are also very capable and good but I felt sad for Michael and I sent him a text.”

FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem announced recently the changes which would be made to Grand Prix race days in an effort to improve decision-making, which included Masi’s removal.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team chief, Christian Horner, also came out in support of Masi to state his sacking was “harsh” and “not right”.