Lewis Hamilton reacts to Michael Masi being back in F1 paddock

Thomas Maher
Michael Masi at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023. Lewis Hamilton

Michael Masi at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has said he doesn’t intend to try seeking out a conversation with Michael Masi this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton and members of the Mercedes F1 team have the opportunity to engage with Michael Masi, former FIA Race Director, if they so choose, this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.

Masi, whose decision-making process at the season finale at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, had a direct impact on the outcome of the title fight, which saw the Drivers’ Championship trophy swing away from Lewis Hamilton and into Max Verstappen’s grasp on the very final lap of the season.

Masi’s controversial Safety Car calls, which were defined as legal under the wording of the Sporting Regulations at the time, resulted in him being removed from his position as Race Director under new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem – Masi being replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich for the 2022 season as he returned home to Australia under a barrage of online hate speech and abuse.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato.

Masi has laid low on the international scene, but has taken up a new role for 2023 as the head of the SuperCars Commission.

As part of F1’s support programme for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, it means that Masi is on the ground and in the F1 paddock, where he was spotted on media day conversing with journalists and drivers, for the first time since the race in Abu Dhabi.

However, due to an ongoing non-disclosure agreement and with no obligation to speak to the media, it’s unlikely that Masi will issue any public comment outside of his duties for SuperCars.

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While Masi may be present on the ground in Melbourne, one man who has no interest in seeking him out for a conversation is Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time World Champion, whose record-breaking eighth title went begging as a consequence of that day at Yas Marina, was asked whether he’d have any interest in conversing with Masi should their paths cross this weekend.

“I don’t. I am just focused on my future,” Hamilton matter-of-factly told media, including PlanetF1.com, in the Melbourne paddock.

“I am focused on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say.”

Hamilton’s future is yet to be mapped out, with the Mercedes man coming to the end of his contract at the conclusion of the 2023 season. While rumours have abounded about what decisions Hamilton and Mercedes may make next, particularly with their spell of F1’s dominance seemingly at an end, Hamilton has said he doesn’t see himself moving elsewhere on the F1 grid.

“I feel amazing. I continue to feel very much at home, as a family,” he said.

“I see myself in Mercedes until my last day. If you look at the legends like Stirling Moss, who was with Mercedes until the end of his days – that has been the dream for me, to one day have that. I have that, so I mean to continue to do that and continue to build with that.”

Having spent the past decade with the Brackley-based team, scoring six of his seven Drivers’ Championships in that time, Hamilton said he hasn’t yet reached a point where he feels he has nothing to bring the team as they try to fight their way back to the front of F1.

“I have got some amazing allies at the team, some great relationships here,” he said.

“I feel, personally, that as long as I can continue to help the team, to help drive the team forward, and really contribute then that is why I want to stay.

“If there is ever a point where I feel like I am not able to do that, it is time for a youngster to come in and take my seat. But I still feel pretty young and in pretty decent shape.”