FORMULA 1

Christian Horner recalls calling Michael Masi after Abu Dhabi GP

Christian Horner Masi, Six Sports

In a recent podcast, Christian Horner revealed why he contacted Race Director Michael Masi after the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

The 2021 season will be remembered as one of the most gruesome F1 seasons ever in the pinnacle of motorsports. The rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went head-on in a long tiring season.

It ultimately came down to the last race at Abu Dhabi which ended in a rather controversial manner. To end all the marvels, a late safety car saw Max Verstappen chasing Lewis Hamilton in the last lap of the race.

It ultimately ended with Verstappen clinching the title away from Hamilton. Hamilton was comfortably leading the race before the safety car came out.

Then race director Michael Masi gave a rather controversial decision. He ‘let them race’ rather than finishing the race behind the safety car. Only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen were let to pass.

This ultimately sealed Lewis’ fate as Verstappen was right on his tale with fresh soft tyres.

For the decision, Masi was therefore removed from his position as a race director.

Christian Horner reached out to Masi

Horner believes after such a controversial decision and its aftermath it was important for him to reach out to Masi which he did:

“Yes, [I did] on a couple of occasions,”

said Horner when asked on a podcast if he had contacted Masi.

“I felt that it wasn’t fair, the way he had been treated, because I think that he’d done the best that he could [in] following the principles [of finishing races under green flag, racing conditions.

“The only thing he screwed up on was not allowing the final two cars at the back of the field to unlap themselves.

“As we saw recently in Monza, nobody wants to see a race diluted and finished under a Safety Car.

“So he did everything to get that race going again, which would have been a horrendous finish to the season, to see it just diluted and peter out under under a Safety Car.

“I think the reaction after the race, there was a huge amount of abuse, sent to him; there was death threats to his family. No individual deserves to go through that.”

Some issues persist even with new race directors

Following the controversy, Masi was replaced by two new race directors. Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich now jointly manage the race controlling duties. However, Horner feels even the new duo is still lacking in some aspects:

“They’re obviously new and very competent, they’ve got the experience,”

he said.

“But we still see issues no happening now and again [but the important thing is] that they’re continuing to learn and evolve.

“It’s a new chapter within the FIA. I think that Michael, in difficult circumstances, did the very best he could throughout the year.

“We have to remember he had very little support in that race control tower and was left very much on his own up there.

“When you follow the process of how they’re looking at how cars run, it’s back to pens and pieces of paper.

“He didn’t have all the backup [systems] that the teams have, for example, with our operations rooms, and the software.

“It was still a very rudimentary process.”

Horner will be much satisfied this season as Red Bull is leading both the championships this season. The team is all set to bag both titles this season.

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