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How Michael Masi handed Max Verstappen undeserved victory in Abu Dhabi

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Michael Masi
Michael Masi is on the hot seat over Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Photo/Michaelkorsoutlet

The FIA has confirmed that Red Bull boss Christian Horner and race director Michael Masi exchanged radio conversations thereby raising suspicion regarding the outcome of the Abu Dhabi final Grand Prix.

When Max Verstappen won the Formula One world championship two months ago, many people questioned Masi’s decision-making. Verstappen, a 24-year-old Dutchman, was crowned the Formula One world champion.

FIA Investigation

The safety car was brought out with five circuits to go in the race after an incident involving Nicholas Latifi.

This meant that Hamilton had a commanding lead over the rest of the field, with only Red Bull’s Verstappen in third place to contend with.

Verstappen was able to reduce the gap on Hamilton after Masi instructed the lapped cars to let go of each other.

The Dutchman passed Hamilton on the final lap after switching to fresh tyres.

Michael Masi

Michael Masi. Photo/New York Times

What Did Michael Masi Do in Abu Dhabi?

Many people believe that Masi broke the rules and allowed the vehicles to pass because he caved in to pressure from Horner and sports director Jonathan Wheatley.

Masi and Wheatley are heard and seen discussing Red Bull’s demands. This indicates that the race director is responding to Red Bull’s requests in some way.

According to reports, Wheatley provides Masi advice about avoiding being passed by slower-moving vehicles, as Red Bull is desperate for a last-lap battle.

It is after Masi has seen Wheatley’s communication that he chooses to tell the five lapped vehicles to avoid one another.

An inquiry from Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff led to Masi repeating what Wheatley had said to him in the prior message.

In the video, Wheatley is heard telling Masi, “Those lapped cars; you don’t need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack. You only need to let them go, and then we’ve got a motor race on our hands.”

Masi responds by saying “understood” and gives an order for the cars to be removed.

When Wolff protests this decision, Masi counters him saying “’Toto, it’s called a motor race, OK?”The video has received a lot of attention on social media, but it’s not a new concept. Formula One released it four days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but it has only just become viral as a result of the hashtag #F1xed.

What Action Will FIA Take Against Michael Massi?

The FIA can hear all of Abu Dhabi’s radio conversations, thus they are aware of the footage. F1 Commission members are scheduled to meet on Monday to present the findings of their inquiry into what happened at the season’s finish.

An investigation was launched to find out how the terrible errors were made. It was reported by the BBC that people within the FIA believe Masi broke the rules in order to win the title.

According to the same source, Masi’s position as a race director is becoming less and less secure following his actions in Abu Dhabi.

To unlap themselves, drivers who have been passed by the leader must go around the vehicles in front of them as well as around the safety car, which is something the race director can do.

Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen ready for Brazil Grand Prix. Photo/Sky Sport

So why didn’t Masi tell the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen and the rest of the top six to unlap themselves?

Was Max Verstappen Right To Overtake Lewis Hamilton On Final Lap?

FIA regulations further state that racing will begin “at the end of the next lap” once lapped cars have passed. If the regulations had been followed, Verstappen would not have been allowed to overtake Hamilton because it was the final lap and the race would not have been restarted because of it.

When the race was resumed by Masi, the Dutchman was able to swoop in and take the championship from Lewis Hamilton with relative ease.

After the 2021 season ended in an unfair manner, there was a lot of speculation about Hamilton’s future. After the Abu Dhabi race, he lasted eight weeks without posting on social media, but he has just started posting again.

Using the caption “I’m back,” he posted an Instagram photo of himself at the Grand Canyon.

Preparations for the new season were well on at the Mercedes facility in Brackley, Northamptonshire, so he was also spotted there.

Lewis Hamilton Fans’ Petition

Hamilton’s his fans took extraordinary action in the aftermath of a heated season finale in Abu Dhabi with a petition ongoing to have Verstappen victory annulled.

Part of the petition states: “Overturn the decision of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Lewis should be the winner.

“I believe justice was not served on Sunday, December 12 2021, when the FIA stewards denied Lewis Hamilton his win of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With less than one lap remaining, some lapped cars were allowed to pass the safety car, which does not comply with the rules of the F1 sport.

“If you are an advocate of justice, honesty and fairness, please sign this petition. Leaving this decision as it stands will send a very wrong message to youngsters and future racers.”

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