“He was simply immune to any feedback, and even today he didn’t really reflect that he did something wrong,” says Toto Wolff, criticizing former F1 race director Michael Masi; It’s been four months since Tuesday that Max Verstappen defeated Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.
Last update: 12/04/22 6:00
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has accused former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi of “disrespecting” drivers by behaving as he would always know better.
It will be four months since Tuesday that Max Verstappen defeated Lewis Hamilton for the title in last season’s disputed World Cup in Abu Dhabi. But how Masi dealt with the affair remains a painful topic for Wolff.
Masi was replaced by the FIA for his final role in 2021, with new race directors Niels Wittich and Edoardo Freitas replacing the Australian on a shared basis and already pushing their authority on the grid with a series of regulatory interventions.
The examination of the final stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was critical to Masi’s handling of overtaking only the five cars that drove the bike – the riders between Hamilton and Verstappen – before bringing the safety car to the final lap, which allowed the Red Bull. rider to get to the front and win his first world championship.
Wolff’s mind turns to the days before the most controversial final in F1 history.
“It’s quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race and I said to him, “I really want to tell you, without elevating you, that you have to accept criticism and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you’re the guy who always knows better, “he told the news agency PA.
“It was not about influencing, but about real honest feedback, that he should not block outside opinion as simply wrong.
“You hear from the drivers and how the driver briefings went [by Masi] and some guys said he was almost disrespectful to how he treated some of them.
“He was immune to any feedback, and even today he didn’t really reflect that he did something wrong.
“He was responsible for the sport because everyone kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director and race director should not be someone people talk about, but someone who does their job and makes sure the race is going according to the rules. . “
Hamilton is expected to be at the Mercedes factory in Brackley from now until the next race in Imola on April 24, when the Silver Arrows will catch up with rival Ferrari and Red Bull.
Hamilton is fifth, 43 points behind leader Charles Leclerc and nine points behind new teammate George Russell.
The 24-year-old finished ahead of Hamilton in two of the opening three races and is second in the standings.
Hamilton and Russell seem to have teamed up and surfed each other before the Australian Grand Prix.
Asked if he was surprised at how well the two Britons got along, Wolff said: “Yes, because they are both so competitive and still able to work together.
“The effort he puts into respect – from a little boy to the best ever and from Lewis in appreciating the future talent that is in George – is impressive.”
The FIA admits “human error” in the Hamilton-Verstappen title dispute
Last month, the FIA released its full report on the Abu Dhabi GP, confirming that “human error” was a factor in the title dispute in 2021, but said that Masi had acted in “good faith” and that the results of the race and championship were “valid”. .
In an FIA report, she acknowledged that Masi had broken F1 regulations by handling the late Safety Car and that he had allowed one last race bike between Verstappen and Hamilton.
The FIA says the race director “called the safety car back to the pit lane without completing the next round, as required by the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations (Article 48.12)”
The report also mentions the fact that only five cars were able to untie under the safety car, and not all cars that did not untie according to the regulations.
“The process of identifying overtaken cars has been manual so far, and human error has meant that not all cars have been allowed to relax on their own.”
They claim that in response they developed software that “automates the communication of the list of cars that must unlock themselves”.
However, they also defend Masi, saying: “The report states that the race director acted in good faith and to the best of his knowledge, given the difficult circumstances, especially given the considerable time constraints on decision-making and the enormous pressure. by the teams.
“The results of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2021 and the FIA Formula 1 World Championship are valid, final and cannot be changed now.”
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