Michael Masi bombshell with Max Verstappen theory dismissed – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen heads into his parade car ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen won 19 races out of 22 in 2023.

Wednesday’s F1 news sees FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem keep the door open for Michael Masi to make a return to the FIA one day.

The former race director went through “hell” after the drama of Abu Dhabi 2021, according to the FIA president, and a return has not been fully ruled out.

This among other key headlines, with additional reporting from Thomas Maher in Abu Dhabi, from Wednesday’s edition of F1 news.

FIA president keeps door open for Michael Masi

Mohammed Ben Sulayem has not ruled out the possibility of former race director Michael Masi returning to the FIA in some capacity one day.

The drama surrounding the 2021 season finale saw the Australian resign and a torrent of abuse sent his way after the mishandling of events in Abu Dhabi led to the FIA admitting “human error” had been made in the course of how events unfolded.

But despite that, Ben Sulayem believes the door cannot be fully shut on a return for him one day.

“The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell!” Ben Sulayem told PA.

“And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.

“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time.”

Read more: FIA open door to staggering Michael Masi return… on one condition

Jake Dennis goes against ‘designed for Max’ Red Bull theory

Red Bull junior Jake Dennis has disagreed with the assessment that the team have designed its cars around the needs of Max Verstappen, having had the chance to drive the RB19 himself in FP1 and in young driver testing in Abu Dhabi.

“I don’t agree when people say, ‘Are the cars designed for Max?'” Dennis told Sky Sports F1.

“I jumped in that thing today and it felt exactly like how a race car should. It does what you want it to do, it turns the way it should turn.

“I think people who are often sceptical jump to conclusions of ‘This car is purely made for Max’ – it’s really not the case.

Read more: Red Bull driver debunks ‘sceptical’ Max Verstappen RB19 theory

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes didn’t have ‘North Star’ to work towards

Lewis Hamilton looked back on a frustrating 2023 season as the season came to an end, with the year being his second winless season in a row.

The Mercedes W14 proved to be a non-winner from Mercedes’ perspective, for the first time since 2011, and the seven-time World Champion knew something was wrong as soon as he drove it for the first time.

“I remember it feeling exactly the same,” he told the BBC as he compared 2022 to this season. “And that definitely was not a great feeling. I really had high hopes.

“In February, when we do a download of where the car is going, I was a little more apprehensive, because the previous year it was like: ‘The car is amazing, it’s unique, no one’s going to have anything like it.’

“So, I was a little bit more cautious when I was listening, and I was like: ‘We will see.’ And then the car had all these problems. I just knew it was going to be a long year.


“I think for this year they thought: ‘The fundamentals are good and we just have to go here.’ And it was not the case. That’s why I was frustrated in February because they hadn’t made the changes I’d asked for.

“But we didn’t have a North Star necessarily at the beginning of the year, knowing exactly where we need to work towards. It’s been kind of a zig-zag line trying to frickin’ get to where we need to be.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton not ‘holding breath’ after shock ‘no one knew’ frustration

Lando Norris jokingly shuts down reporter over Max Verstappen friendship

Lando Norris did not take too kindly to a suggestion that Max Verstappen is his ‘BFF’ (best friend forever, for the uninitiated) in the paddock, when asked about it over the weekend.

When a journalist was setting up a question to Norris in Abu Dhabi in a media session including PlanetF1.com, referring to Verstappen as his ‘BFF’, Norris responded immediately: “He’s not my BFF. Don’t ever say that again.

“We respect each other and we get along, kind of friends away, but that’s it. We just have a lot of respect for one another.”

Read more: ‘Don’t ever say that again’ – Lando Norris shuts down question on Max Verstappen

Several drivers in favour of cutting F1 practice time

Valtteri Bottas is among several drivers to have called for a cut in practice time over the course of a weekend, believing it to be “too much” and the advancements in technology mean the simulators do a solid enough job of predicting setup direction as it is.

“No, I don’t think so, because it’s the same for everybody – and we have too much practice nowadays anyway,” Bottas responded when asked by PlanetF1.com if he would be in favour of more practice.

“Three practice [sessions] is too much. We don’t need that anymore with the simulation tools [and] simulators that we have nowadays.”

Read more: F1 practice slash called for in response to red flags rule tweak suggestion