It has now been four months since December 12, 2021, coinciding with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of that season, the world title was decided in favor of Max Verstappen, who graduated for the first time world champion also thanks to an episode that is still discussed today. Specifically, the Red Bull driver had the opportunity to overtake on the last lap Lewis Hamilton – in turn struggling with used tires – following a controversial decision by the then Race Director Michael Masi, who decided to split only the five cars present between the English Mercedes and the current number 1, contrary to the basic rules which require the entire group of drivers to split. Thanks to this, Verstappen was therefore able to win over Hamilton, generating fiery controversy from the entire Mercedes team and the team principal ever since. Toto Wolffwith the latter contributing to the subsequent removal of Masi, now replaced by the Freitas-Wittich-Blash trio.
Interviewed by the news agency PAthe Austrian manager returned to relive those still painful moments for him from a sporting point of view, also providing details on the pre-race and on the relationship between him and Masi: “I had lunch with him on the Wednesday before the race – explained Wolff – advising him to accept the criticism to start from there. I told him that Lewis does it every day, and that he seemed like a guy who knew what he was doing. It wasn’t about influencing him, just about giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t have interpreted external opinions as simply being wrong. Today some pilots say that, during the briefings, Masi was often almost disrespectful towards them. He was simply immune to any criticism – he added – And even today he did not understand that he had done something wrong. The race director shouldn’t be someone people talk about, but someone who does his job and ensures that the race is held in compliance with the regulations. “
Last month, the International Federation announced its report on the decisions taken during the last round of the world championship in Abu Dhabi, coming to the conclusion that Masi’s choices had violated the regulation of F1 limited to the late management of the Safety Car, responsible for the famous last lap that saw the world championship battle between Verstappen and Hamilton.