Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has slammed former Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi, saying the Australian was a liability to the sport.
Masi, who made a controversial decision at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021, lost his job as Race Director after being chastised for allowing only the cars between race leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves. The decision ultimately gave Verstappen the title in rather contentious circumstances, with Wolff still fuming over Masi’s behaviour.
“He was a liability for the sport because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and the race director should not be somebody that people talk about, but someone who does the job and makes sure the race is run according to the regulations,” Wolff told PA.
“He was just immune to any feedback and even today he has not properly reflected that he did something wrong.”
Mercedes not the only ones to have issues
Wolff, who had lunch with Masi on the Wednesday before the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, stated that the Australian was generally disrespectful to several drivers while also being impervious to criticism.
“It is quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race, and I said to him that ‘I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you are a guy who always seems to know better’,” Wolff continued.
“It wasn’t about influencing him but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong.
“You hear from the drivers and how the drivers’ briefings were conducted [by Masi] and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful how he treated some of them.”
The fallout from Abu Dhabi
Following the contentious end to the 2021 Formula 1 season, the FIA conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that “human error” played a significant role in the misinterpretation of the rules.
The governing body chose to replace Masi ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season, with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas now sharing the role, and Herbie Blash serving as a permanent advisor to the pair.