FIA race director explains decisions behind chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Race director Michael Masi came under criticism from Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who claimed that ‘every decision’ went against his team during the race

Jamie Braidwood
Tuesday 07 December 2021 11:37
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Verstappen and Hamilton go into F1 season finale level on points

Under-fire FIA race director Michael Masi has moved to explain a number of his decisions at at a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The first-ever race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was halted on two occasions by red flag stoppages and there were heated discussions between Masi and the teams.

After Max Verstappen gained an off-track advantage when battling with title rival Lewis Hamilton, Masi at one point offered Red Bull the option to give a place back rather than risking intervention from the stewards.

The conversation between the FIA and the team was broadcast live on television and Red Bull principle Christian Horner later called the negotiations to being at a “local market”.

Horner also claimed that Formula 1 was missing the “experience” of former race director Charlie Whiting, but Masi defended his handling of the race and was adamant that his conversion with Red Bull had been a “normal discussion”.

“That happens regularly on a number of occasions and has [done] all year, and previously,” Masi said.

“I wouldn’t call it a deal, as from a race director’s perspective I have no authority to instruct the teams to do anything in that situation. I can give them an offer, [I have] the ability to do that but the choice is theirs.

“The stewards are obviously empowered to give penalties, but I can give them my perspective. That’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up.”

Masi also revealed that there was an “open and frank” exchange of words between Hamilton and Verstappen after their dramatic collision in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

The F1 title rivals were summoned to the stewards following their collision to explain the incident as well as several controversies during the race.

“It is an intense championship battle between two fantastic drivers and two great teams,” Masi said. “So that’s part of an intense championship battle on both sides.

“I think there’s always discussion on various things, so if there is a lot. That’s part of why we have a drivers’ meeting to have an open and frank discussion between us and exchange views.”

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