‘Thrown under the bus’ – Max Verstappen criticises FIA over Michael Masi sacking

Australian Masi was removed as Formula One’s race director last week in the wake of the controversial end to the 2021 title race.

Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

MAX VERSTAPPEN HAS accused Formula One’s rulers of throwing Michael Masi under the bus after he was sacked as the sport’s race director.

Verstappen, who benefitted from Masi’s incorrect handling of a late safety car period in Abu Dhabi to beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world championship, also called the Australian’s dismissal “unacceptable” and “incredible”.

Under mounting pressure, Masi was formally removed from his post by the FIA last week.

He will be replaced by two new race directors, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas. They will be supported by the 73-year-old Herbie Blash in a restructure of how the sport is refereed.
The sport will no longer televise the in-race conversations between the teams and the FIA. Both Mercedes and Red Bull lobbied Masi in the closing moments of the Abu Dhabi race.

Verstappen, speaking at length for the first time since Masi was fired, said: “For me, it is really unfair what happened to Michael because he has been thrown under the bus.

“Can you imagine a referee in whatever sport has a coach screaming in his ear all the time, yelling ‘yellow card, red card, no foul’? It is impossible to make a decision.

“The fact that F1 already allowed that whilst he was making decisions is wrong. It needed Michael making the decisions on his own. And for those who did sack him to allow that in the first place is unacceptable. I found it really incredible.”

It was suggested that Hamilton’s Mercedes team dropped its appeal against the outcome of the deeply contentious season finale on the proviso Masi was removed.

Team principal Toto Wolff denied the claim at Mercedes’ recent launch. But Hamilton added further fuel to the fire here in Barcelona when he suggested the sport’s stewards are biased.

Masi, who took over from Charlie Whiting following the Englishman’s sudden death on the eve of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, has been offered a lesser role by the FIA.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

An animated Verstappen continued: “I feel really sorry and very sad for Michael because he was a capable and good race director.

“I sent him a text as well because it was not the right decision. It is very hard to take over from someone like Charlie.

“He had so much experience and Charlie had help around him. Maybe Michael just needed a little bit more?

“Everyone needs experience. I wish him all the best for whatever comes next. I hope it is better than being an F1 race director.”

About the author:

Press Association

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel