Masi says drivers’ accusations are ‘quite offensive’

Date published: September 14 2020

Carlos Sainz Tuscan GP crash

Michael Masi is offended by Lewis Hamilton’s accusations that Race Control is putting drivers at “risk” to make Formula 1 “more exciting”.

With the Safety Car pitting at the end of lap 6 at the Tuscan Grand Prix, then race leader Valtteri Bottas took his time getting go – as the rules allow.

However, several drivers further back went for it before the Finn accelerated.

Realising that Bottas and Lewis Hamilton had yet to go, the midfield braked causing a multi-car crash that took Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi out of the race.

Hamilton blamed F1’s “decision-makers”, saying they are delaying switching off the Safety Car lights to make the show more exciting but in doing so are putting the drivers at risk.

“It’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all,” the Tuscan GP winner said in the post-race press conference. “It’s the decision-makers. I don’t know who.

“They’re obviously trying to make it more exciting but ultimately today you’ve seen they’ve put people at risk. So, perhaps they need to rethink that.

“They have been moving switching off the Safety Car lights later and later and later and we’re out there fighting for a position.”

He wasn’t the only one having a go with Bottas calling Race Control’s decisions unsafe.

“The FIA or FOM, I don’t know who’s deciding what’s happening with the Safety Cars but they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights later, so we can’t build a gap early and then go like the corner before the race start,” he said.

“They in the main straight, so maybe it’s time to think if that’s right and safe to do so.”

Masi says he finds it “offensive” that the drivers would accuse Formula 1 of risking their lives.

“From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount, full stop. End of story,” he said to RaceFans.net.

“In my capacity as the race director and safety delegate, point blank, that’s where my role sits as the sporting integrity and safety.

“And anyone that says otherwise is actually quite offensive.”

As for their claims that the Safety Car lights went off later then usual, he said that isn’t correct.

“They can criticise all they want,” said the F1 race director. “If we have a look at a distance perspective from where the lights were extinguished to the control line, [it’s] probably not dissimilar, if not longer, than at a number of other venues.

“At the end of the day, the Safety Car lights go out where they do, the Safety Car is in pit lane, we have the 20 best drivers in the world, and as we saw earlier today in the Formula 3 race, those drivers in the junior category had a very, very similar restart to what was occurring in the F1 race and navigated it quite well without incident.”

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