Ex-Mercedes engineer admits he felt ‘sorry’ for Michael Masi

The 2021 season finale was overshadowed by multiple rules being broken by race director Michael Masi at Lewis Hamilton's expense.

A year on from ‘that’ race at Abu Dhabi and it continues to make headlines, with new comments on the controversial race having surfaced over the last couple of days.

At the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Max Verstappen claimed his first World Championship, after race director Michael Masi failed to follow the rulebook.

Masi’s ‘human error’ saw Lewis Hamilton ‘robbed’ of an eighth World Championship, something he was just half a lap away from achieving.

Neither Hamilton nor Verstappen can be blamed at all for what happened in the closing laps at the Yas Marina Circuit, with the incident having arisen through Masi’s doing.

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With Hamilton and Verstappen running first and second during a late Safety Car, Masi opted to only let the lapped cars between the two to unlap themselves, before immediately withdrawing the Safety Car.

Had the rules been followed then all the lapped cars would’ve been allowed through, and the Safety Car would’ve completed an additional lap.

That would’ve seen the race end under a Safety Car, therefore making Hamilton World Champion.

Of course, Verstappen managed to overtake Hamilton on the last lap, therefore sealing him the win and the title in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

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Remarkably, former Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe has revealed that he felt like Masi “did his job”, with the Brit admitting that he felt “sorry” for the Australian.

“I did feel sorry for the race director [Masi] actually, I think he got the wrong end of that really unfairly to me,” Lowe told PlanetF1.

“There was no right or wrong answer there. He did his job, he was the ref.”

2022 has been a much simpler season for Verstappen, who claimed the 2022 title with relative ease.

His 15 wins were especially helpful in dominating the season, with Lowe adding that it was nice to see the imperious Dutchman win a title “without any argument” following the backlash he received at the end of 2021.

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“Good to see Max secure a championship without any argument,” added Lowe.

“I was quite happy that he won it last year, actually – which is probably controversial, but Formula One is a sport of jeopardy. It always has been. Nothing’s fair in Formula One. I’ve been on the wrong side of fairness many, many times and then [on] the right side of good luck as well.

“That’s the nature, that’s the interest, that’s the excitement of the sport, actually. It’s not a sport where everything should go to plan and always the best person by some analysis should win. That’s why we watch and love the sport and there’s never a right answer anyway to anything.”