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Formula 1

13th Dec 2021

Calls for F1 race director Michael Masi to be fired grow amid Verstappen Hamilton controversy

Charlie Herbert

Calls for Michael Masi to be fired grow

This is going to rumble on for a while yet

Michael Masi continues to come under fire for his handling of the closing stages of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to claim the world championship title.

In a fitting end to a thrilling season, Hamilton and Verstappen went head to head on Sunday in a winner-takes-all race with both men tied on exactly the same amount of points.

After some early controversy in the first lap, Hamilton went on to control the race and looked destined to win a record-breaking 8th world title.

However when Nicholas Latifi crashed out with just a handful of laps to go, a safety car was deployed, bunching all the cars together and allowing Verstappen to change onto fresh, quicker tires.

When the race restarted with just one lap to go, the Dutchman passed his British rival to claim the most dramatic of titles.

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding whether the lapped cars in between Lewis and Max should have been allowed to overtake the safety car, leaving the two rivals wheel to wheel – continues to rage.

Race director Masi had initially said lapped cars would not be able to overtake the safety car, which would have played into Mercedes’ hands, keeping four cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen.

However Masi then changed his decision, causing fury both in the Mercedes garage and amongst fans watching at home, with many calling for him to resign or be removed from his role.

“#MichaelMasi needs to be fired from his role with the FIA immediately. He disgraced #F1 today and raised so many questions about internal rot,” one user wrote.

“Michael Masi just robbed Lewis Hamilton of the record breaking eighth and I’m still not over it, what a complete joke to the sport,” another tweeted.

A third said that the FIA had been a “complete joke” all and called for Masi to go “immediately,” whilst another suggested he had “put a whole new meaning to his job title of race director.”

A fifth tweeted: “Whatever anyone thinks of Lewis and Max, I think we can all agree that Michael Masi has been a dreadful race director all year.

“The stuff between Max and Lewis, both ways, should have been stopped early on. Inconsistent penalties all season right through the grid. #masiout.”

A final person wrote: “Michael Masi’s explanation for what happened at the end, ‘It’s called a motor race’. Translation: We don’t care if we didn’t follow our own procedure, or if we changed our minds at the last minute.”