Hill: Masi has ‘learned his lesson’, should continue

Jamie Woodhouse
F1 race director Michael Masi looks left. United States, October 2021.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi takes a glance to the left. United States, October 2021.

Damon Hill believes Michael Masi has learned from his actions in Abu Dhabi and is still needed as the F1 race director.

Although the new 2022 season is fast approaching, Formula 1 has not yet been able to fully move on from the controversy of the 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi.

Title challengers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points, a straight scrap to be crowned champion.

Hamilton was well on his way to victory and a record-breaking eighth World Championship, but that all changed with a late Safety Car and ahead of the restart on the final lap, Masi’s actions infuriated Hamilton and his Mercedes team.

Initially deciding lapped cars could not overtake the Safety Car, Masi then changed his mind. But instead of all lapped cars overtaking as the sporting regulations state, only those between Verstappen in P2 and Hamilton were cleared.

Verstappen had made a pit-stop under the Safety Car, so with fresh tyres he passed Hamilton on the final lap, going on to take the win and his first title.

Speculation continues to swirl surrounding Masi and whether he will still be race director by the time of the 2022 season’s curtain-raiser in Bahrain, while Hamilton has not spoken publicly since Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says he is not sure if the seven-time former champion will return for 2022, while Hamilton had not responded to messages from new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Hill, though, does not believe Masi should lose his position, arguing Formula 1 needs his experience at the head of Race Control.

The 1996 World Champion is also confident Masi knows the severity of his actions and has learned from them.

Lewis Hamilton off-track battling Max Verstappen. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, goes off-track as he battles Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

“I think he’s learned his lesson. I think we need someone who has some experience,” Hill told Sky F1.

“These people know what they are dealing with. He just needs back-up and needs to be given the confidence that he can lay down the law according to what he wants to see done.

“Assuming, of course, he wants it to be run to the regulations.”

Fellow ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle fears though that if Masi stays, he is clearly on his final life.

As a result, he does not see how Formula 1 can operate under such circumstances.

 

“If the FIA and F1 want Michael Masi to stay, and if Michael Masi wants to stay, he has clearly only got one life left,” said Brundle.

“So I don’t know if that’s tenable all-round.”

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Masi has ‘learned his lesson’

Damon Hill believes Michael Masi has learned his lesson and should stay in the role of F1 race director.