Horner criticises “harsh” decision to replace Masi as F1 race director

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has criticised the FIA’s decision to replace Formula 1 race director Michael Masi following the end of last season.

FIA president Mohamed Ben Sulayem announced last week that Masi will not continue in the role following the controversial conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This was among a series of changes to officiating in Formula 1 including the introduction of a virtual race control room.

Masi was accused of contravening the rules by arranging a late restart in Abu Dhabi by only allowing a portion of the lapped cars to pass the Safety Car. That created an opportunity for Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton and clinch the championship, which he ultimately did.

However, Horner rejected claims Masi had failed to follow the rules correctly and was unimpressed by the decision to replace him.

“I think that it’s a difficult one, it’s the FIA’s business,” he told TalkSport in an interview. “I think it’s harsh.

“He was in a very difficult position last year. We feel that a lot of decisions went against us last year and I think when you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resource compared to what the teams have, there’s such a massive, massive difference. It’s good to hear they’re bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and they’re bringing back one of the most experienced guys, Herbie Blash.

“I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael, that’s not right. That was my personal feeling.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said last year Hamilton was “robbed” of the championship by Masi. However he denied putting pressure on the FIA to replace him.

Horner insisted Masi “didn’t actually do anything wrong in accordance with the rules”. He claimed the controversy had created a “smokescreen” around the conclusion of the championship. He said Mercedes should have used opportunities to pit Hamilton, though doing so would have dropped him behind Verstappen.

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“It’s a bit of a smokescreen because, when you look back at that race, Mercedes had two opportunities to pit,” Horner said. “There was a Virtual Safety Car and there was a Safety Car and the driver was asking to pit on both times and they left him out. And that’s what exposed him at the end of the race. Tactically, we got it right on the day and it’s those small margins.”

“When the crash came five laps from the end with Nicholas Latifi we reacted immediately. We got Max in, we pitted him for a new set of tyres. Mercedes left Lewis out on what would become 44-lap-old tyres at the end of their life. And obviously Max had to make that pass on the last lap which he did.

“I think there’s been a bit of hiding around some of the controversy because the bottom line is tactically we got it right. Max delivered the move and became the world champion, so it was a phenomenal result.”

He dismissed the suggestion the FIA should apologise to Hamilton over the way the final was handled. “You could argue that about 100 different decisions that were made during the course of the year.

“Was the penalty at Silverstone big enough? Were the penalties that we got in Jeddah fair? There’s so many things. I think it’s time to turn the page, move on. There’s a new president in the FIA, he’s looking to put a new structure in place and embrace more technology to help support those officials.”

Masi’s position will be shared by WEC race director Eduardo Freitas and his DTM counterpart Niels Wittich this year. However, Horner said he isn’t sure the role should be divided between two people.

“It’s not something personally I would do, because it would be like rotating the race engineer or the team manager in our team. You sign up, you do all the races. You want that consistency.

“But if they’re not actually trackside, you hope they’d be supporting them remotely so they’ve got that consistency. The one thing that drivers want is a consistent application of the rules rather than penalties changing from race-to-race. I think that’s the challenge the FIA have got to obviously address this season.”

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Keith Collantine
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158 comments on “Horner criticises “harsh” decision to replace Masi as F1 race director”

  1. Not what he said after the previous to last race if I recall correctly, but not an unexpected thing to read.

    Anyway, glad Horner is sticking to what the stewards used as justification for not changing anything during the weekend (incl. the ‘all is not any’ bits), rather than what the FIA report seems to have concluded but not made explicit, namely that a bit too many things including the SC handling at Abu Dhabi were not done right over the last few seasons and need to be restructured. I didn’t really need Masi gone for that, but I do think keeping him would make his job difficult (esp. if he did have to share it now!).

    Though rationally a bit disappointing, I suppose it is much easier on the mind to have my opinion of Horner and the Red Bull leadership confirmed than having to start taking their expressed opinions seriously again. Won’t change how good a team they can be on track so I can still look forward to what they show us there.

    1. Horner the sweet talking deceiver.
      Of course he would talk like this to appear to be the good guy. Last few races it was a rogue Marshall yet now they are all angels.
      If Horner had another job it would be as a con man.

      1. Of course he would say this as now he no longer has Masi in his pocket!!!
        Wheatley and he are now going to have to seek a new method of influencing race results

        1. Noframingplease (@)
          21st February 2022, 18:09

          Oh, you mean the same methods Toto had in changing the rules for testing wings of the RB (except the MB own flappy frontwing) and changing the pitstop rules (for safety). Getting a bit tired of folks here talking about the Max, RB Masi conspiracy while half the world (except GB of course) knows the influence of Toto in the game

          1. HAM got a DSQ for a broken wing which was off the limits by a mm or less, while RB many times ‘repaired’ their flattering rear wings.

            Ofc people discuss a gifted and manipulated title. You better search for some orange sites to find your pool of biased Max fans, if you only want their distorted views.

            Btw: i am not british, like many others who demand fair sports.

          2. Roman, repairing flattering had be done otherwise they would fail that test too and why do you think they had to do that because of the ‘new’ rules change in the middle of the season. But i don’t think Lewis Wing was broken just a wrong bolt during the construction of that wing on track as they discovered just during the test. (ofcourse it had nothing todo with the strange damage on the wings)

          3. And lets not forget the in season tyre change Toto got which was the key to their comeback.

          4. @mayrton you never fail to disappoint. I was waiting for an anti-Mercedes comment from you and here it is.

            The tyre change was made on safety grounds after, ahem, Max had a big blow-out. The change was to help RB not MB

          5. Well why would I feel different all of a sudden. I dont like Mercedes for many reasons. The biggest is that their power of influence is way too big as are their budgets and benefits from cross overs from other Mercedes company parts. Another is their unsportsmanlike behavior when they finally got some competition. It all breathes the likes of a company that is in it for the marketing, not for the love of the game. Overall and in general I do not appreciate factory teams as it distorts the playing field. Let them just supply an engine

          6. @roman, it was not a broken wing it was a proven illegal setup.
            Do not use fantasy “arguments”.

        2. Very well put!

          1. My comment was aimed at the original comment by @Mike Williams, not the comment by Noframingplease!

      2. Totally agree Horner is devious fella ,
        It s his doing that got Masi the sack .
        So check mate .

    2. @bosyber it is perhaps not surprising given that, quite recently, we also had Wheatley complaining about the fact that FOM had been broadcasting the messages that had been sent to the race director. The main complaint Wheatley had was not about the principle of lobbying the race director – it was that FOM was publishing those messages, which meant that they were no longer able to anonymously lobby the race director.

      His position was that he wanted to be able to continue lobbying the race director in exactly the same way as last year – he just wanted FOM to stop broadcasting the messages so the public wouldn’t be able to hear the messages he was sending to race control.

      1. Again, changing time lines to fit your narrative.
        Stop doing that and be honest for once.

      2. anon I think you are taking a bit of license here and trying to make it sound like Wheatley wants anonymity so he can ‘bully’ the RD, with your ‘exactly the same way as last year’ remark. I read Wheatley’s quotes but it was a one-time allowance on a particular site so I can’t link it. He certainly did not say ‘exactly the same way as last year.’ Wheatley acknowledged there are things he said that he regretted, as one reason to keep the comments away from the public, as well as certain other things that might come about in the discussions regarding applying certain rules etc that he thinks might only confuse the average viewer, but that would be very clear for those within F1 that can look at these things under a microscope.

        Keep in mind if Wheatley would prefer anonymity, then all team members would get the same throughout the grid. Let’s not make it sound like only Wheatley wants this because he has something nefarious in mind, like he thinks he can sway the RD. All he can do is plead his case as he sees it on behalf of his team. As well, let’s have some respect for Masi in that he is a neutral and is(was) not going to be swayed. As Brundle has said of Wheatley’s radio comm…it was uncomfortable to hear but it would have been nothing Masi wasn’t already aware of.

        As well, I came across an article with quotes from Masi from back in July 2021 where he says things such as the lobbying is something that he expects and takes in stride, as he acknowledges it is just the teams fighting for their own benefit and just pointing things out to him on the radio that he is just there to consider or disregard but always with neutrality as the overwhelming reality for him. He fully understands teams are going to speak up for themselves. I’ll just add too, that for me when we have heard these types of radio comms there has been nothing but full respect and politeness between the team member and Masi.

        Let’s also keep in perspective that F1 has always enjoyed being very selective in what we do get to hear, in order to help create controversy or buzz, or ‘a storyline,’ so from that aspect I can understand why Wheatley (and likely others) would perhaps prefer not to have things he (et al) have said be used to create an inaccurate portrayal of reality. And that is exactly what has happened at AD. It has been portrayed that Masi was swayed by Wheatley, and personally I think Masi has a mind of his own, and I agree with Brundle when he says that Wheatley was not saying anything to Masi of which Masi himself was not already aware.

        I also read Masi say last July he is well aware that F1 selects certain radio comm to ‘enhance the show’ (I’m paraphrasing here) and that in that sense he not only didn’t mind being lobbied by teams as he finds that understandable and to be expected, but that if that gave the fans a little more insight into how things work well that’s ok too.

  2. “I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael, that’s not right. That was my personal feeling.”

    A driver had a championship taken from him through a total subversion of a couple of well established rules. If it was Max who had lost out in the same way he’d have his knives out make no mistake.

    1. Very true and at the same time the Hamilton fans would be delighted and would have welcomed that decision. So basically it’s a lesson about perspective and dealing with how things come (be it luck or something else) your way.

      In all fairness, I do think that Masi had a tough job to do last year and the FIA is trying to give support to the new RD that Masi never had. I also do think that Masi didn’t want to finish the championship behind the safety car but have a race till the end. And lastly, I think he didn’t favor Hamilton nor Verstappen to be WC. So it’s down to being in a tough position wanting to do things right, but (being under pressure) making the wrong call. That might be tough to accept to the ones losing out, but there was no intent to any wrongdoing.

      1. If Masi had a difficult job, it’s only because he (likely with strong input from those above him) was under pressure to consider whether this was going to be a fair race or an entertaining one. I’m not saying Masi prefered one driver over the other, but the only justification to restart the race that quickly was entertainment (not to do the right thing!), and that took priority over sporting integrity. That alone suggests that those managing the races are not qualified to do so. Not just Masi, but all those pushing what should first and foremost be a sport as primarily entertainment, polluting results in the process.

        1. Exactly true what you are saying, Masi was under enormous pressure and didn’t make a decision to favour either team. It was the urgency to finish under a green along with the Latifi crash taking too long to get cleared completely that sort of cornered him. At the end of the day, the situation was the same for everyone and RedBull made the right calls.
          We will always have the tinfoil-hat brigade who think RedBull were paying Masi.. etc etc

      2. Noframingplease (@)
        21st February 2022, 18:11


      3. Agree, with the added pressure of the stewards having made a decision to let Ham off cutting the chicane and retain the race lead earlier in the race. The armchair pundits, myself included had plenty of time to decide that decision was wrong and favoured Ham, which was made clear by all the commentary team before Lafiti had his crash. Ending the race under the safety car would have had half the racing world howling about bias to M-B.

        1. Many armchair fans felt that decision wasn’t wrong because Max had pushed Lewis off the circuit

          1. Pushed? Verstappen had track position thanks to a clever line that got him to the apex at the chicane entry first, there was no contact.

          2. By clever line you mean don’t brake and just barrel into the apex of a corner and slam on in front of a guy who’s still travelling at speed because he (and everyone else) is following the racing line?

  3. I won’t get caught up in the whole RB vs Merc debate. No doubt plenty of people here will fight over this for a while.

    But I will say this. I saw Herbie Blash’s comments on the Abu Dhabi situation on multiple F1 news outlets. He said (paraphrasing) that he would have called a red flag “because a sprint race for the final laps would be exciting”. So for all the people who are claiming that Masi ignored the rules for F1’s entertainment factor or to create a spectacle: guess what! The old school guy who is brought in to protect Charlie’s legacy would have also subverted the rules to make something exciting. Go figure!

    Looking at it from this angle, Masi was scapegoated. And yeah, that makes it harsh.

    1. @hahostolze Had Masi red flagged the race no one would be complaining and he’d probably still be the race director.

      1. @phillyspur That’s simply untrue. How many times have we seen red flags bemoaned because they allow people a free tyre change and/or repairs? Indeed, at the very last race in Jeddah we’d seen Verstappen benefit from not pitting in anticipation of a red flag.

        If Abu Dhabi had been red flagged it would have been Red Bull who were aggrieved, because Hamilton would have had the benefit of a tyre change without having to compromise track position.

        Furthermore there was no justification for a red flag. The track was not blocked and there were no barriers that needed repairing.

        1. Whilst, yes it would have been seen as very controversial, nobody could have complained as it was allowed within the rules.

          In addition, we’d end up with an equal fight for the last few laps, i.e. tyres and everything

          I’d argue that any full safety car occurrence, that occurs in the last 10% of the race, yields a red flag. You couldn’t use laps because 5 laps of Spa is far different, in terms of time, to 5 at Monaco.

        2. The difference though was that it would not have been a flagrant bending/breaking of rules. The advantages of red flags is something that needs to stop and yes would have been unfair to RB. But red flags always give someone the advantage, but it’s within the rules. What Masi, wasn’t. That’s the difference.

          But just as Abu brought forward the need for rule revisions, I sincerely hope red flag rules change aswell.

      2. @hahostolze @phillyspur
        I agree a red flag was a much better choice. There was already a precedent set for this at azerbaijan instead of the totally unprecedented and illegal action he took. Had Masi red flagged, at least it would have been much fairer and not outright gift the championship to Max. That’s one reason he was sacked. There was an obviously better option that he failed to take. Another example of his poor decision making.

        However, I don’t agree that no one would be complaining. if Lewis lost, his fans would still be complaining that there shouldn’t have been a red flag as it should have ended under caution. If no red flag or restart, Max fans would be complaining. But without a doubt, a red flag was a better option, and would have resulted in the least amount of complaining because both sides had a chance (especially if Lewis won). The decision Masi took guaranteed Max the championship.

        Sadly the option that followed the rules, meaning the race finished under caution, wouldn’t be good for the “show”. So it’s clear the “show” matters more than the sport.

        Though I would argue the Masi manipulation wasn’t good for the “show” anyway. There was no question that Max would breeze by after the restart.

        1. One advantage of a red flag would be that at the least no one could have said that Masi ignored the rules that are meant to ensure safety for all drivers and marshals, as happened now due to releasing the SC earlier than the procedure proscribes.

          I do agree @hahostolze that the apparent (we have seen it increasingly over the last few years arguably, culminating in Abu Dhabi) inability to live with a SC ending or other security measure that endangers ‘entertainment’ isn’t really Masi’s fault, as we know the teams also lobbied for going green more often, so in that sense you aren’t wrong to say he was made the scapegoat. Yes, the FIA do tend to put blame somewhere so it doesn’t fall on them. I hope the other, more important procedural changes, as well as the review of the SC procedure, work to fix the real/main issues. As I wrote above, I do think Masi might not have been the right person to implement those changes (and him accepting a reduced role, and/or even sharing the role seems like it would also negatively impact his standing).

      3. @phillyspur A lot of people would be complaining because there was zero justification under the rules to red flag the race.

    2. Except red flagging the race would have been within the rules, what Masi did was not. If the rules had been followed, there would be no need for an investigation now would there?

      1. Well, it looks like that fact is lost on Mr Horner! And either completely oblivious to the fact that he is the one throwing the smokescreen or deliberately doing so in a silly and desperate attempt to change the narrative.
        Why is he saying that? Of course deep down, he knows it’s not good for the 2021 WDC since it undermines the credibility of the title! And therefore he will say anything to deflect from that perception; I can’t blame him, it’s his job.
        As a seasoned team principal, saying that Mercs should have pitted Lewis under those circumstances is laughable; any discernible F1 enthusiast knows that pitting Lewis under those circumstances would have been a strategic disaster!
        If the SC rules and procedures have been followed legitimately, in the same way he Masi had done on several occasions since he became the RD, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation or would there have been an investigation!

      2. My understanding is Michael interpreted the rules in a “non-standard” fashion. What happened wasn’t illegal, he just interpreted the rules in a new way.

        1. Well, call it what you may but the bottom-line is that what he did was so “unusual” that it warranted an investigation, which led to him ‘losing’ his job as a RD and a new race control structure / system put in place for 2022 season! So at this point, it doesn’t matter how we call it; what matters is that what he did wasn’t right and the FIA has duly investigated and made recommendations / necessary changes going forward in a bid to avoid a repeat!
          Bring on 2022…

    3. @hahostolze what Masi did, was for me, a case of a referee handcuffing one boxer, and giving the opponent a go to KO the handcuffed opponent.
      A race can’t be managed by a freestyle interpretation of the rules, no matter how much pressure the race director is subjected too.
      I think he simply failed the test, it’s like in any other job, if you fail your “trial” period, you’re let go, no matter how good are your intentions.

      1. Mercedes did the handcuffing Massi only gave the go.

        1. +1.
          According to the rules (protect yourself at all time) that would still count as KO. Watch Mayweather jr vs Victor Ortiz KO.

          1. @tifoso1989 you seem to miss the point here, had Masi followed the rule book, the outcome would have been different.
            Mercedes made the calculations/decisions based on well know rules, only for Masi to pull the carpet from under their feet.

          2. @abdelilah
            How on earth they calculated that Latifi’s car will not be cleared in 4 laps counting the laps 53, 54, 55 and 56 before its ending. They can expect a car to be cleared or not within a certain amount of time but as seen before that’s unpredictable and depends on many factors.

            For example, a car that crashes near an evacuation point in the circuit and leaves debris in the track that it will require a SC but will be cleared very quickly without an intervention of a crane. In Latifi’s case there was a fire that has to be fought…

            Mercedes and Hamilton went to the final race simply avoiding fighting Verstappen at all costs on the track and they have failed massively.

        2. They took that decision based on the rulebook, which I believe Masi overlook, plus they had everything to lose, hence not pitting.
          I bet if Mercedes pitted, the race would have ended behind the safety car, I think Masi makes his own rules.

          1. That’s just silly. If the Latifi crash had been cleared when Masi expected it to then there would have been plenty of time for a restart and no need for a red flag at all. The delay of clearing the car and building pressure of laps running out caused him to do what he did.

    4. @phillyspur @red-andy @sidziner @bosyber it would seem I am at least right in the fact that a red flag would also be controversial (and there are no real grounds for it in the rules when a better alternative is available – this is a fact)

      1. @hahostolze what’s the better alternative? I stated the better alternative was to red flag. You say there was something better than that? The only options I see are
        1) follow the rules. Lewis wins under caution
        2) red flag to allow the race to finish under green. This did have the precedent of Azerbaijan. At least this would put both competitors on equal tires.
        3) the crazy disregard for all rules and make up new rules with zero precedent to award 1 driver a slam dunk championship which is what Masi chose to do
        4) ???

        1. The conditions weren’t bad enough for a red flag, where are the debris filling the track for example, which you often see in a red flag case (brazil 2003, imola 2021)?

          1. The conditions were good enough to release all lapped cars and not contradict his own clarification just a year ago at that time.

    5. You’re somewhat misrepresenting the argument against the action.

      Many of the vocal criticisers of breaking this rule have said that if they wanted to break the rules to go racing, red flag & restart would have been the way to go. Everyone would have gotten to go racing, which is objectively fairer. Who’s to say that Sainz wouldn’t have gotten Max? Who’s to say that Perez wouldn’t have managed to finish higher up and clinch the WCC?

      So while, yeah, the red flag would have been controversial still – it would have been undoubtedly objectively better than breaking the rules so ONE car gets to go racing.

  4. Color me shocked.

  5. No Karen, the penalties you got in Jeddah were not fair, but don’t get me wrong, it was not fair to Mercedes and Hamilton. Brake-testing a driver should have been penalized with an immediate disqualification. That was on merit, an attempt to crash the opposition. The only part I agree on is that everyone should move on from what happened in 2021.

    1. You have convoluted the facts. Mercedes had failed to inform Hamilton that Verstappen would give the position back. Verstappen braked to let Hamilton through which was met with an erratic response from the latter.

      1. If you say so, but the facts were that Mercedes didn’t have the time to inform Hamilton that he needs to retake the position and Max brake tested him, he got a penalty for this, so state the facts.

      2. He still brake tested Lewis which should be a disqualification

      3. amian – Yeah…right. Verstappen waited until Hamilton was just behind him and pressed the brakes to let him through))) This is so funny.

        That was a blatant and clear move with a simple idea.
        – Verstappen got a penalty.
        – Verstappen didn’t want to lose.
        – He intentionally, deliberately broke the front wing on his rival’s car.
        – He lets Hamilton through, serving the penalty
        – Hamilton goes to the pit. Verstappen wins

      4. I thought that one had been well sorted out. Both drivers knew very well what was going on and what they were doing : none of them wanted to cross the DRS line first. None wanted to crash. It was erratic and dangerous driving from Verstappen, but the intention was not to cause a crash, it was to surprise Hamilton and force him to overtake.

        Now the penalty was probably on the lenient side, but a black flag was not called for. Even Vettel didn’t get any for his Baku road rage.

        1. On a 300+ straight with guard rails and walls on each side the braketest qualified for a DSQ plus severe penalties (like a multi-race ban). Just for the risk of creating a shunt, with the rest of the field coming up with high speed.

          I for myself am not eager to have another severe incident at the end of the season, like last year. And the braketest in Jeddah had much risk of causing something truly frightening.

          1. Neither driver was going particularly fast. Hamilton hung around behind Verstappen for a good while, matching his speed. Neither wanted to let the other get the DRS. Chosing that spot to hand over the positions clever Red Bull, and was perfectly allowed. Of course Verstappen was rightly penalized for eventually forcing the issue, but there was no reason for the stewards to go with a heavier penalty. Both drivers continued on to finish in the “correct” positions.

          2. On a 300+ straight with guard rails and walls on each side the braketest qualified for a DSQ plus severe penalties (like a multi-race ban).

            How about the 51g airplane crash ? Just curious to know…

          3. @MichaelN Its not about the risk of the collision between the two cars itself, but about the risk of shunting there on the straight, with the next drivers potentially coming up in full speed.

            @tifoso1989: I guess you are referring once again to Silverstone, where over-aggressive driving of Max resulted into his shunt? Sorry, but if you ignore another car and force it to back out of a collision 5 times within half a lap, then you cant complain when you eventually get contact and crash. This was not Lewis fault, he was alongside on the straight and made the corner. Racing incident in my understanding and in the eyes of many drivers. The only deliberate take-out in the last season was Monza by Max (he tried it many more times in Brazil and Jeddah tough).

          4. Roman,
            Hamilton in Monza has the racing line and didn’t have to yield to Verstappen just because he showed in his mirrors. Slam dunk penalty for causing the collision. Same can be said about the Silverstone incident, Verstappen took the racing line and Hamilton chose to put a wheel at the inside of Copse and caused a collision, slam dunk penalty too.

            I’m far from being a RBR fan. I also don’t either like the narrative spread by the Mercedes PR machine that Max is the devil and Hamilton is an angel from the sky. Both have made reckless moves against each other last year with Verstappen being the constant aggressor but that doesn’t exempt Hamilton.

            As you have explained above, brake testing is worth a race ban, I’m Ok with that. So are the reckless moves in dangerous corners like Blanchimont, Eau Rouge, Copse, Parabolica… Professional drivers cannot act recklessly there where their lives are at stake.

        2. This is probably the argument I probably agree closest with. It was stupid, childish, and reckless from Max, but I don’t think it warranted a DSQ/ban. The official report says that Max was guilty of “causing a collision”, which in recent months has come pretty much uniformly with a 10 second time penalty. I think there’s very much a case to class this as a “dangerous incident”, or “causing a collision through dangerous driving”, both of which have recently come with a 10 second stop-go penalty (looking at things like Vettel in Baku 2017, or Italy 2019), which is the most severe penalty short of a DSQ.

          Which begs the question, what driving standards do/should lead to a DSQ. I can’t remember the last time someone got DSQ’d for incidents involving driving standards (I’m not counting technical infringements or passing the pit lane red light, although I can understand arguments for the latter being counted as a driving infringement). The last ban was obviously Grosjean in 2012 but even that took a multitude of incidents for a ban (and now that’s been succeeded by the penalty point system). I think this something that definitely needs clarifying, because at the minute there’s a lack of modern precedent for stewards to call on, so even just a list of suggestions (not a conclusive list because other incident types could inevitably come up) of what could warrant a DSQ.

      5. You are conflating a little.

        Max did brake check Hamilton.

        The FIA informed RBR first, then Mercedes. Mercedes told Lewis he could pass Max as soon as they got the instruction, which was approximately quarter of a second before Max brake checked Lewis.

        You can blame this on FIA timing if you like, but not on Mercedes.

    2. Noframingplease (@)
      21st February 2022, 18:25

      @boudi please get your facts right or just phrase it as ‘your opinion’. Before braking max decreased his speed big time. But Hamilton stayed behind him because he knew Max would have caught him in the DRS. ‘Brake testing’ are the words lewis immediately shouted (and later his fans) to get the attention (like he it always talking about aggressive driving to anyone who give him a good fight). Though lewis decided to stay behind, while both where decreasing their speed…… yes, and max suddenly hit the brakes. Hey, did lewis got a disqualification after brake-testing vettel a few years ago?

      1. No, cause Lewis didnt braketest someone. 2.4g, 69 bar – its all about facts, not hollow and distorted arguments.

    3. Noframingplease (@)
      21st February 2022, 18:31

      Oh,… and of course you will say that the facts did’t show that lewis brake tested vettel. Facts is Lewis is smart enough to decrease his speed at such a low speed without hotting the brakes. In that way lewis is the smart racer and Max still the most raw talented

      1. If I recall, the Stewards looked at the data from LH car and there was not a braking moment so he was cleared. One didn’t need to see the data from Max’s car because it was clear he applied the brakes with LH behind.

        I’m not sure why so many want to battle over points that were investigated and decided last season. It is done, the bell has rung, the fat lady has sung, can we move onto 2022 and all hope the new rules and staffing fixes the problems of 2021.

      2. I didn’t state my opinion. Verstappen brake tested Hamilton and got a lenient penalty for it, even Marko apologized for it, why should you deny it? Whether he was driving slowly or not, HAM was in a position to decide when and where to overtake him. And yes, Hamilton didn’t get a penalty coz he never slammed on his brakes in Baku.

  6. Hornery Spice would much rather all see it his way.

    1. +1 he’s a walking contradiction. When Max comes off worse he wants race bans handed out, but when it’s the other way around his attitude completely changes to defend Max “ well he’s a tough racer” “it’s a good thing Hamilton got out of the way because Max wasn’t stopping” etc. Saying that Masi was under pressure is the ultimate joke. All of the pressure to speed things up we’re coming from him and his team. I can guarantee that had this been the other way around it’d still be being dragged through the courts. Desperate.

  7. “Mercedes chose the wrong strategy” is the only smokescreen here:

    1. Whether Mercedes made a strategy blunder or not has nothing to do with whether Masi handled the situation properly or not.

    2. Mercedes actually got the strategy right. Had Masi followed the rules, they would have won the race.

    3. Red Bull were obviously just mirroring Mercedes’ strategy. Had Hamilton pitted, Verstappen wouldn’t have.

    1. I agree, Mercedes would have handed over the race on a silver plate to RB had they pitted Hamilton.

    2. Well broken down. COTD.

    3. @hotbottoms This is why the Abu Dhabi report needs to be made public, so people can’t put forward the red herring of Mercedes having had the opportunity to pit.

      That and the fact that its not being made public is bad practice. It suggests something untoward happened, and that the FIA is still thinking of itself first, or rather the people who represent the FIA.

    4. What if Latifi’s car had been cleared when Masi expected and the restart went ahead in good time? Mercedes were likely panicking at this stage and hoping for it to take a long time to clear so they could creep around and finish under yellow.

  8. Don’t worry Chritian, the FIA has your back and will replace him with another puppet you can control. This is all window dressing.

    1. Dry your eyes mate. I know it’s hard to take, but her mind has been made up. There’s plenty more fish in the sea/

    2. Of course, as per the last 6 world Championships that Hamilton won. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  9. Horner insisted Masi “didn’t actually do anything wrong in accordance with the rules”. 

    Sporting Regulation 39.12 

    2 If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” has been sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car. This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed. Having overtaken the cars on the lead lap and the safety car these cars should then proceed around the track at an appropriate speed, without overtaking, and make every effort to take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car. Whilst they are overtaking, and in order to ensure this may be carried out safely, the cars on the lead lap must always stay on the racing line unless deviating from it is unavoidable. Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap. 

    Also Max didn’t have the same opinion when he got the short end of it in Eifel. That time Masi used the rules to justify it. The same one he ignored a year later.


  10. So, only last week Ben said the changes had unanimous support…….That did not last long.

    Ben Sulayem believed the changes were necessary to ensure public trust in the rules being applied correctly and that they had the unanimous support of F1’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali, and the team principals.

    1. I think he can have given FIA his support, as he acknowledges the decisions were FIA’s to make, and still feel like it was harsh on Masi. Horner is not the only one within F1 who didn’t think Masi had to go. But nor did Horner likely try to stand in FIA’s way of making the decisions that are their responsibility to make, and he will easily live with these decisions of course.

      1. I am not sure how to square away what CH has stated publicly (can be seen as criticism) and the FIAs statement of unanimous support unless you understand the reasons for the decision.

        I believe Ben was in an interesting position publicly on how to handle this situation.

        It was reported that MB/Toto wanted Masi removed and this was part of a deal. If Ben removes Masi, it could be perceived that MB has undue influence over the FIA and the next time MB receive a favorable outcome questions will be raised. On the other side of the coin, the public perception of Masi’s performance is poor/questionable. While perception is not necessarily reality, it would be baggage that Ben would have to carry. Removing Masi clears the slate and would be a politically smart move.

        Was Masi removed because perception? If he was, it would be harsh.

        1. I don’t believe for a second that MB/TW wanted Masi removed as part of a deal.

  11. petebaldwin (@)
    21st February 2022, 15:50

    I think if it was just about Abu Dhabi, it would perhaps be a little harsh to remove Masi. We don’t know for certain but I personally believe he was under enormous amounts of pressure from within F1 for the race to finish under a green flag and he cracked under it.

    For me though, Abu Dhabi was just one of many examples of him failing. The situation where he couldn’t explain what was allowed under the rules and what was not was a major issue. The way he brushed off safety concerns brought forward by the drivers was a major issue. The inconsistent application of the rules throughout the season was a major issue….

    I was arguing before Abu Dhabi that I thought they should look to replace him because he wasn’t up to it. With Charlie, it felt that he worked with the drivers but with Masi, it was very much an “us and them” approach and i was clearly not working.

    1. +1. This is, in my opinion, more than an Abu Dhabi situation

    2. It would be interesting to count all the controversial decisions from the season as it seems they are all attributed to Masi’s performance. I understand that only the stewards investigate and hand out penalties and also monitor for infringements to investigate. Perhaps I am wrong.

      1. You are not wrong, the stewards decide who gets penalized and in which manner (limited by the regulations). The race director can flag an incident for them to investigate, but they can also do that on their own.

        There is one ‘but’ to this, and that is the tone the race director sets. For 15+ years almost nobody was penalized for ignoring yellow flags or leaving the track because the race director didn’t see it as a big issue. Since he is the only permanent official, this eventually had an influence on the stewards as well.

  12. Every now and then I dip into the comments section, to remind myself why I don’t generally read the comments section


    1. Not only did you dip, but you even bothered to post! Thank you for gracing us with your presence. Your ego has brightened our day.

      1. You’re easily pleased, aren’t you

    2. I love it when people drop a comment to let everyone know that they are above commenting. But, you’ll probably never see this, so…

  13. Still people are talking about Masi breaking the rules. According to the stewards, no rules were broken. They looked at the protest, it’s their call.

    1. Still they cries.

    2. Then why the hell did the FIA sack Masi from that position.
      The best thing to do if they were in the right was to fine Mercedes for making things up with their protest.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st February 2022, 17:06

        Because he’d lost any respect from most teams, the driver, most fans and in addition to that, he’d been poor throughout the entire season? There were plenty of reasons to replace Masi before they even showed up in Abu Dhabi.

      2. Because there were much more and arguably bigger issues with his performance. Ignore Abu Dhabi, and it’s still clear that Masi wasn’t in control. Alonso flagrantly cutting T1 in Russia after openly practising the line was just one of many examples where drivers and teams were clearly challenging the FIA and getting away with it. Other issues, like the FIA implementing a highly dubious system to slow down pitstops (in the eyes of many at Mercedes’ request), we’re also handled so poorly that it attracted negative attention.

    3. According to the stewards, it’s impossible for the race director to break the rules, because his authority overrides the regulations.

      And that statement should be a red flag to anyone who follows any sport at any level of interest.

  14. If Lewis pitted instead of Max, then Max led the race, but Masi would not have made a last minute change to let part of the back marker cars through… What would have happened then?

    1. @bullmello In all likelihood, he would’ve still allowed unlapping for those between the championship contenders, given his clear-cut motive, so same outcome either way round.

      1. No, because the first announcement from race control was that no cars would be unlapping.

        That was reversed once Wheatley started whinging at Masi.

        1. This is true.

        2. You don’t think Toto would have been doing the same thing, only louder?

          1. Toto complained about the solution that already happened. And he lost.

      2. You forget that FIA and LibertyMedia wanted a new champ.

        And Masi followed RB/Wheatly pleading (or instructions) by the word – not to be known whats the reason behind that. Does not look like a mistake imho.

        1. Ah, there’s the conspiracy theorist I expected.


        2. If that was the aim there were various opportunities to disqualify or even ban Hamilton and Mercedes earlier in the season.

          Whatever one thinks of the stewards decisions that influenced the championship, it is still a good thing that the days of the British-led FIA under Mosley are over, and that there was no repeat of the questionable 1994 FIA interventions in the championship.

  15. If the shoe was on the other foot, Horner would have said the complete opposite, and red bull would have continually threatened to pull out of F1. Probably would have taken it to court too.

    1. ̶P̶r̶o̶b̶a̶b̶l̶y̶ would have taken it to court too.

  16. The cheek of RBR through this really riles me, more than Masi’s actions in some ways. If the boot was on the other foot they’d be just as angry as Merc, if not more so. Why they can’t just admit they were lucky and tone things down a bit I don’t know.

    1. They have, sort of, by noting that FIA decisions and/or mistakes went against them earlier in the season and that they were also unimpressed by the FIA’s handling of numerous races.

      Also, courting a bit of controversy perfectly fits the Red Bull agenda and marketing aims.

  17. Well this brightened up my day. Very amusing.

  18. Why does everybody expect racers and team managers to be consistent in their reasoning? They’ll always have their own interest in mind and react accordingly.

    1. Well when Withmarsh was in charge, he constantly had the interest of other teams than his own.

  19. Horner was at the meeting which unanimously agreed the FIA plan including dismissing Masi,

    So Horner is a hypocrite and demonstrably a trouble maker of the worst sort.

    1. Exactly how is he making trouble? And how is he being hypocritical? He has supported the FIA’s decisions even if he felt the one towards Masi was harsh. He still respects that it is the FIA’s business to make these decisions.

      1. No offence Robbi but he and those with him were allowed into the stewards meeting at AD and allowed 40 minutes grace to ‘establish support and ‘defend’ Massi and their position! Toto had no such opportunity and I do not blame him for considering legal action based on that alone.

        I mean by all means as an interested party but to actually be involved and providing information in the stewards decision and the defence of Massi was a ridiculously amateur situation that has exposed the whole fia to an almost ridiculous level of corruption and collusion.

        This time it is hard to even justify RB position for the die hards – they absolutely dragged the whole sport into a mess from the whispered words of JW to the ranting behaviour of CH and should be ashamed of themselves.

        To then come out and say Massi is being treated harshly is hypocrisy beyond belief Given the actions and behaviour of that trackside team and his then and subsequent responses are far more likely the reason he is being moved.

        But, true to form it must be Mercedes and Toto that did it!

        Or, LH, cos you know, he has not said a word and that means… – enter whatever tin foil reasoning you like.

        1. +1 DrG. Absolutely spot on.

        2. @drgraham No offence taken. But I am unclear as to your post. You’re claiming CH and crew had 40 minutes with Masi and the stewards to ‘establish support.’ And TW had no such opportunity? First I’m hearing of this, but since Masi’s decision helped them win the WDC I suppose their support was a given, no? But what good would that do anyway? What sway would RBR’s predictable support of Masi have over the FIA and their decision making process as they analyzed things over the off-season?

          I’m not sure how ‘they absolutely dragged the whole sport into a mess from the whispered words of JW to the ranting behaviour of CH,’ when all ‘they’ were doing was fighting for their own side, while F1 selected what we were to hear. What did we not hear TW and CH et al say?

          So if you are claiming that CH has supported Masi all along, why is it hypocritical for him to claim their releasing of Masi from the position was harsh? Why is it a surprise to hear CH say this?

          ‘But, true to form it must be Mercedes and Toto that did it!’ Nobody is saying that CH is coming to that conclusion but you, in what seems to be a tabloidy take on things, including with your last unnecessary sentence.

        3. No robbi if you visited anything other than this echo chamber, you would via several outlets realise that the stewards hearing was a farce far below thee standards of the championship.

          Once again I would ask you to research and expand your reading beyond just this sight.

          It’s irrelevant if the race director made a mistake- and no I think he let his professional responsibility get swayed, it’s the after party that really screwed up.

          It’s been acknowledged- let’s move on.

          1. @drgraham What stewards hearing is that? If you think I just hover around this ‘echo chamber’ as you put it, which I don’t exclusively always, then perhaps enlighten me with some quotes to support what you are saying rather than saying things and then asking me to go google for them. I’m unclear as to what was a farce about some stewards hearing, and I’m unclear as to exactly when this meeting took place of which TW was excluded.

            “It’s been acknowledged” What has?

  20. The penalty in Jeddah Christian was not fair to Mercedes, it should have been a disqualification or at the very least a 10 second stop and go penalty for a deliberate brake check. Hamilton’s Silverstone penalty was fine and in fact given your commitment to “Let them race” shouldn’t have even been a penalty. It was certainly fairer than the non penalty Verstappen got for Monza where he absolutely and deliberately crashed out an opponent and then had the audacity to cry about not being left space.

    Highlighting the failures of Masi is not hard and as such his sacking was not harsh in the slightest. It’s just a shame it went on for a year too long and ruined the end of a championship.

  21. Horner raises some important points.

    1. The Race Director was under a lot of (probably unacceptable) pressure, both in Abu Dhabi and throughout the season. An important step, in my opinion, has been taken to restrict/regulate team-to-FIA radio. I just hope this works out as intended.

    2. Horner says it’s a difficult job. And it is. I think realistically, the job has historically covered too many roles to really be do-able with one person, especially when the person in that position hasn’t grown the role (because realistically, that’s what happened under Charlie – the role grew with him). That’s why I approve of the idea of this Virtual Race Control support for the RD, again, if implemented correctly.

    Another interesting point Horner raises at the end: when one RD is the in-person RD, will the other guy be in charge in the virtual RD? It wasn’t something I’d previously considered, but doing that may help consistency across the 2 Race Directors.

    However, I disagree with Horner’s conclusion. I don’t think the decision to get rid of Masi was wrong or harsh. And I don’t think it should solely be seen through the lens of Abu Dhabi, because his position was becoming more and more untenable through the last couple of seasons (2019 wasn’t awful, but some decisions in 2020 and 2021 were just weird). And I think he has taken a bit too much criticism for decisions that weren’t his fault (such as stewards decisions or sometimes even some F2 decisions), but equally there are decisions he’s made that are worthy of criticism. Based on his performance across the season(s) as a whole, I think the decision to replace Masi is the correct one.

    And Freitas should be excellent based off his WEC work. I don’t know enough about Wittich to properly comment (although I’ve seen some people bringing up the DTM finale, I don’t think that was realistically the Race Director’s fault).

    1. And Freitas should be excellent based off his WEC work

      That doesn’t mean he would be necessarily successful in F1. He will have to deal with different animals every single weekend. RBR and Mercedes with their massive PR machines, Ferrari and the polarized coverage they get and superstars like Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso… with huge following.

      The decisions now will be scrutinised to the hilt at every race and with VAR in action the race directors will get even more pressure to get it right at every single race of the season. People like Toto and Horner can make their life like hell with the first decision that doesn’t go their way.

      1. Yeah no doubt it’s going to be easy, but I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

        1. Absolutely ! Freitas is an excellent choice. The FIA have to make sure that he can do his job peacefully.

    2. You’re correct that he may have not necessarily made all the bad calls but he certainly defended them at every point and never took onboard feedback by always claiming everything was handled properly even when proved wrong.

    3. We will see how Freitas handles F1. He has been quite good on track limits and collisions, but less so at safety cars (ironically). In the WEC and ELMS he obviously has to account for a large number of amateur drivers, so perhaps he will do things differently in F1 with just 20 cars. That said, Le Mans had a pretty bad safety car incident last year and that wasn’t exactly handled in the best possible way.

      Freitas also isn’t the youngest guy around, so it seems a bit like he is there to bring Wittich up to speed and then let him take over full time.

  22. Bear says installing pay-as-you-go lavatories in woods was a bad idea.

  23. Go home Chris, you’re drunk

  24. It’s going to be fun watching Horner try and legitimise his hired thug’s “championship” in the coming weeks. I wonder how long it will take Max to threaten to headbutt someone?

    1. @jazz Didn’t he just do that with his quotes in the article above?

      1. He did, and he’ll keep doing just that in the mistaken belief his hired thug is a legitimate champion. Honestly, the front of the guy thinking he can legitimately, honestly and proudly display number one on his car this season. Devoid of integrity, honesty and morality that team. Which is why Horner will continue to make efforts to legitimise the way his driver “won” 2021’s WDC.

        1. Yes, because obviously only the last race matters, not silverstone, baku or hungary, which would make your point moot.

          1. Yeah, all races count, even the farca of Spa and eventually the manipulated Abu Dhabi. Also Monza, Brazil, Jeddah.

            Eventually the championship got manipulated and turned upside down by the RD, braking the rules in the final laps of the final race. So the WDC is a farce and does not reflect the result of a fair competition.

        2. @jazz Alrighty then. As far as I know the Championship belongs to Max and even TW, LH, and Mercedes are acknowledging Max didn’t do anything wrong. And I’m sure before long CH will not have to justify anything since everyone that matters in F1 is acknowledging Max’s WDC as well as the changes that have been made since then. In no time it is going to be all about the new chapter.

          1. Suppose Canada made the World Cup Final Robbie, but the referee decided in the last ten minutes of the game to blindfold just the Canadian goalkeeper for the penalty shootouts, would you still be claiming the opposing side deserved and earned the honour of the trophy? Everyone that matters in F1 knows the awarding of the 2021 title was a sham. And those that seek to legitimise the awarding of the title, in this instance, you, have no ability to judge what is fair and righteous because of your own bias. Max was indeed awarded the world title, but was awarded so by a corrupt and broken entity. For VER to hold that trophy aloft and display the number one decal is an insult to its rightful owner and the whole F1 community. The fact RB don’t see this is frankly expected.

          2. @jazz I may be biased but you are even moreso with your language of ‘hired thug’ and ‘corrupt.’ So of course you are not going to truly acknowledge Max’s Championship which is indeed in the record books via circumstances that were obviously contentious, but certainly not corrupt. If Max and RBR didn’t do anything wrong, but Masi did, but when all is said and done the Championship still goes to Max after all the aftermath analysis is concluded, then yes of course he is going to hold that trophy aloft and display the number one decal on his car. Horner has acknowledged the decisions made since the race were FIA’s to make and they’ve replaced Masi and changed other things. It still holds true that Max and RBR didn’t do anything wrong and since they have been left with the WDC, of course they are going to take that and run with it. You’d do the same. Or are you suggesting you’d hand the trophy back? I really doubt it.

  25. Weird thinking to keep a RD, whose integrity cannot be trusted anymore.

    And the argument that Merc should have pitted HAM is ridiculous. Bragging about their superior tactics, while they were the ones dragging the RD into a decision which made a farce of the sports and the title.

    Undeserved winner of a gifted title who better should keep his mouth shut – so cringe.

  26. Horner disregards the affect Masi’s decision had on all the other drivers still competing in the race. You could argue that Hamilton wasn’t affected as he was still in first position at the restart. But you cannot argue that Masi’s decision was unfair to the rest of the field. Sainz wasn’t allowed to start behind Max. Ricciardo pitted using the same “superior” strategy RB used but the cars in the positions in front of him were allowed to unlap. The ending of that race was a complete farce from the perspective of a race and completely compelling for the determination of the WDC. That is why Masi is gone.

    1. I don’t see how any driver could’ve realistically changed his championship result in that case.

      1. The WDC is the result of the points gained during all races of a season. It is not part of the final race or any races. The last race was compromised for the WDC. You can’t say well we can screw drivers out of their race position because it won’t affect their WDC position.

      2. Masi’s decision basically percluded Sainz from having any chance of winning his first race.

        In effect he banned him from competing for that win!!

        We can argue until the cows come home, about how unlikely it would have been for Sainz to get ahead of both – but let’s remember it’s not unreasonable to see a situation where the desperate Max / Lewis, slid off the road for a couple of seconds.

  27. I would expect nothing different from Horner. He is quite simply the worst human being in the paddock. Of course with his lack of a moral compass, the decision to remove Masi is a wrong decision.

  28. Merc incapability of pitstop strategy cost Lewis’ race and Masi’s job

  29. I finally gathered my stomach to watch my recording of the final race of the 2021 season, and it just reopened the wounds of how farcical virtually the entire race was. From Max kamikazeing Lewis off the track with the moronic Sky commentators maintaining Max was in his rights to drive like a suicide bomber, to the absolutely embarrassing interference from Horner and disgusting calculated for DTS Netflix finale, it absolutely ensured I will taste vomit in my mouth anytime Horner opens his.

    1. Totally agree, and the man goes completely out of his way to get on a broadcast to spew ever more rotten bile. Even in the off season, he’s giving interviews on LBC.

    2. @kerrymaxwell Sounds like you should be directing your vomit towards Sky and F1 and FIA, not Max and RBR and Horner. The stewards decided not to do anything about LH going wide outside of Max because it was fair and hard racing and Max stayed on the track. Horner didn’t interfere with anything nor does he I’m sure care about whatever Netflix is doing.

      @jazz The man goes completely out of his way, does he? It’s that kind of ridiculous rhetoric, including ‘rotten bile’ that makes your view hard to appreciate. He’s being interviewed and being asked his opinion, naturally. Get used to it. It happens all the time.

  30. Referee made an error, FIA should have made this clear, instead we are expected to infer it from the change of race director.

    Red Bull should have the humility to admit they benefited from the error and practice silence on the matter so that we can all move on.

  31. Of course Christian would disagree with the decision from the FIA which in fact the last race win meant to Red Bull was proven gifted to the people opinion

  32. Steven Williamson
    23rd February 2022, 7:22

    Boo-hoo, now he can’t “run for the shelter, of his Horner’s little helper”.

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