Christian Horner says F1 has a ‘key focus’ on supporting whoever the race director is going forward
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says F1 has a ‘key focus’ on supporting whoever the race director is going forward… with Michael Masi’s job under threat over his handling of title-decider between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
- Michael Masi is under scrutiny for his handling of the 2021 title-deciding race
- An FIA inquiry could lead to him losing his job or being offered extra support
- Christian Horner says more focus will go on offering support to the race director
- A controversial call by Masi led to Max Verstappen winning the championship
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that Formula One chiefs are focusing on offering the race director better support after the controversial ending to the 2021 season.
Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to win Red Bull their first drivers’ championship in eight years.
Race director Michael Masi has faced intense scrutiny since the title-decider after his safety car decision put Verstappen on the back of Hamilton which led to the Dutchman winning the championship.
Race director Michael Masi’s future is to be decided by an FIA inquiry into the Abu Dhabi GP
Christian Horner (left) says there is a focus on offering better support to the race director
An FIA inquiry into the events of Abu Dhabi is ongoing and could lead to Masi getting extra support in his role, or replaced altogether within a new structure.
Horner, who like Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff was putting pressure on Masi during the title-decider, said the race director role will be ‘better supported’ going forward.
He told Sky Sports News: ‘The new FIA president [Mohammed bin Sulayem] has put a key focus on this and I think there’s a big drive to make sure the race director has better support.
Masi was pressured by Toto Wolff (left) and Horner throughout the title-deciding race
Masi has faced immense scrutiny for call which allowed Verstappen to pass Hamilton for title
‘The tools we have at our disposal are far in advance of Michael and his team.
‘So I think there’s been a lot of focus over the winter and I think you’ll see that role better supported, which will hopefully enable decisions to be easier and swifter, but I think we’ve also got to look at the regulations to simplify them as well.’
At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Masi allowed some cars to unlap themselves and not others, which saw Verstappen move up right behind Hamilton just as the safety car was being brought in before the final lap of the race.
Mercedes lodged protests following the race but they were dismissed and there had been reports that Hamilton could retire from the sport
Verstappen, on much fresher tyres after pitting behind the safety car, overtook Hamilton on the last lap to seal the title.
Mercedes lodged protests following the race but they were dismissed and there had been reports that Hamilton could retire from the sport.
The seven-time champion returned to social media for the first time since losing the title on Saturday, posting a picture of himself at the Grand Canyon with the caption: ‘I’ve been gone and now I’m back.’
Findings of the FIA’s investigation are to be presented later this month before going for approval on March 18 in Bahrain – just two days before the first race of the season.
A decision over Masi’s future could be approved just two days before the start of the season
A statement from the FIA read: ‘At this stage, no decision has been taken on the outcome of the detailed analysis currently underway into the events of the last Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
‘As previously announced, the findings of this detailed analysis will be presented at the F1 Commission meeting in London on 14th February after an open discussion with all F1 drivers and then finally have to be approved at the World Motor Sport Council meeting on 18th March in Bahrain, under the authority of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.’
Masi took on the role of race director after the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting before the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
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