Williams boss Capito throws his support behind Masi

Frank Parker
Williams boss Jost Capito on the phone. September Zandvoort 2021

Williams team boss Jost Capito has given his support to under-fire race director Michael Masi following his controversial decisions in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

During the 2021 season finale, Masi called a late Safety Car which allowed the pack to bunch up with just five laps remaining.

The Australian then elected to allow only the lapped cars through between title contenders Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

As a result, Verstappen was able to pass Hamilton on the final racing lap to claim the race victory and snatch the Championship crown in the dying embers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The decision has polarised the F1 community with Masi’s future remaining unclear. There have been suggestions that the race director could be replaced ahead of the 2022 season in a new restructure.

Newly elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has engaged in talks with the teams ahead of a full investigation held by the FIA. The report is due to be released in time for the World Motor Sport Council meeting on 18 March.

However, Capito has jumped to the defence of the under-pressure race director and believes that the stewards and Masi handle the pressure cooker environment of a Grand Prix “very well”.

“I know Masi quite well; I met him a couple of times,” Capito said in the Collecting Cars podcast, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.

“I had discussions with him, I had discussions with the stewards, I had quite a lot of discussions especially with Emanuele Pirro. What are the issues, what are the difficulties the stewards and Masi have to go through during a race? And I see it’s very, very difficult.

“But I think they handle it very well for what’s going on. And also Masi is very professional, and I don’t believe anybody in the FIA or the stewards prefer, at any time, any team or any driver. That’s absolutely 1000 per cent sure.”

FIA race director Michael Masi. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Capito fully supports Masi’s decisions at the decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season, despite pressure from both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner.

The Williams CEO believes that there should be a disconnect between the race director and the teams who are known to be largely vocal during a race.

“You have to take the decisions quite quickly and immediately, and that decision is seen by millions or billions of people live at the same time,” Capito explained.

“It’s a huge pressure. And I believe they have handled it very well. What I think is not right is that there can be a conversation with the team principals or anybody with the team with the race director during the race.

“The broadcast is not the issue. I think it’s the conversation itself. It’s the same as, when you look at football, the coach discussing with a referee during the match.

“These decisions during the race should not be able to be protested or looked at [after the race].

“If you have a football match, and there was a penalty, the penalty will not be taken away after the match if it seems that it wasn’t right.

“I think that has to be clarified by the rules and that’s the only thing I think has to be done.”

When asked whether he thought Masi’s decision was fair, Capito held firm explaining that, under the circumstances, the Australian made the right decision to allow a head-to-head fight to the end.

“I would say this is like life. If you say sport is absolutely fair, what is fair? Is life fair?” asked Capito.

“Life isn’t fair all the time. I think Masi did it very well under the pressure he was and the decisions he had taken.

 

“He wanted the championship to be decided without anybody else being involved, which is why he let the [lapped] cars through.

“They were first and second before the Safety Car, so they should be in that position to decide the championship. It’s fully understandable.

“Everything was according to rules that are in place, as I understand it.”

 

Jost Capito backs Masi's decision making

Williams boss Jost Capito has said Michael Masi did well under the circumstances in Abu Dhabi.