Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he is not happy with the way the FIA has treated former race director Michael Masi because he believes his removal has thrown him under the bus. Masi has had the role of race director since the start of the 2019 season following the sudden death of Charlie Whiting, who has held that role for many years.
The Australian was removed from that position following an FIA investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in which Massi was accused of breaking the rules by organizing a late restart, after which Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton and won the title.
The new president of the FIA, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has announced that Masi will not remain the director of the race and that this role will be shared by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich this year. On the other hand, Verstappen criticized the decision that influenced Massi to be fired.
The Dutchman explains that Masi was under extreme pressure from Toto Wolff and Christian Horner who communicated with him during the races. "I do not think it is right. It's very unfair to me what happened to Michael because he was really thrown under the bus, ”says Verstappen.
“Of course people talk a lot about what was decided in Abu Dhabi, but can you imagine a referee in any sport having a coach or equivalent who constantly shouts in your ear: yellow card, red card, no decision, no foul? It is impossible to make a decision, ”he explains.
"So I think in the first place (wrong) that Formula 1 really allowed team members to talk to him while he was making decisions: very wrong, because Michael was supposed to make his own decisions without people yelling in his ear."
Max Verstappen on Michael Masi
The Dutchman adds that he is sorry for Masi because he was extremely capable in his position, and he revealed that he contacted the former director of the race after the controversial events.
“I’m really sorry for Michael because I think he was a really capable and good race director. I have nothing against the new race directors because I think they are also very capable and very good race directors, but personally I was very sad about Michael and I sent him a message.
So, it is not the right decision, "he added. Verstappen believes the new race directors deserve more support because of the complex nature of the role under high pressure. “After Charlie (Whiting) died, it is very difficult to take over from someone like him.
He had experience from previous years. Charlie had a lot of help around him, and maybe Michael just needed a little more, ”he said. "Everyone needs experience. I came to this sport the first year - when I look back on it, I was a newcomer, and now I progress.
It would be the same for Michael. ” "Therefore, it was not the right decision for me to be fired immediately. But I wish him all the best in everything that follows and I hope it is better than being the director of a Formula 1 race, ”concluded Verstappen.