‘I’m not here to protect Michael or anything’: Steiner confident FIA will address Masi concerns

Guenther Steiner has distanced himself from the investigation the FIA are carrying out into the closing moments of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is hesitant to overly involve himself in matters concerning the FIA following the controversial end to last year’s championship.

Race director Michael Masi sparked controversy in the world of motorsport when he allowed a limited number of lapped runners to overtake the Safety Car ahead of the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, contravening a decision just minutes earlier when he ruled that no lapped cars would be allowed their lap back due to time constraints.

READ: Wolff: Even Haas could win 2022 Formula 1 championship

This allowed Max Verstappen to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton and claim his first-ever Formula 1 championship in dramatic fashion.

Mercedes have said they will hold the FIA “accountable” for an investigation they are carrying out into the closing events at the Yas Marina Circuit, after dropping their intention to appeal the 2021 championship classification.

This investigation is being led by new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, who has reshuffled his staff by placing Masi and head of single-seater technical matters, Nikolas Tombazis, under the supervision of Peter Bayer.

Ben Sulayem recently met with Formula 1 team bosses to discuss how best to move forward with the adjudication of races, but Steiner has said he prefers not to interfere.

“I wouldn’t like to go to the FIA to tell them what they should be doing,” the Haas F1 boss said, as quoted by the Express.

Toto Wolff doesn't want Michael Masi to be fired after Abu Dhabi GP controversy.v1

“I know they are doing things but I don’t know the details, contracts and stuff like this. I don’t know their complete structure.”

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Calls have been made for Masi to be removed from his position as race director, but the Haas boss does not think it is his place to make suggestions as to how the sport’s governing body structure their staff.

“We all know Michael Masi is race director but I don’t know what is the underlying [structure] and how to make it better,” he explained.

“As I said, I’m pretty busy with what I’m doing with Haas F1, so I’m not getting involved in that.

“But I’ve full confidence in the FIA that they will fix it.”

Following the meeting with ben Sulayem, the 56-year-old did not wish to reveal the intricacies of what was a private conversation but affirmed that the FIA are doing everything they can do put in place the correct framework to assist Masi.

“I didn’t give a lot of recommendations to president Mohammed,” he added.

“We talked about it, they were private talks and I don’t want to go there.

“But I know they are diligently working on it to make it…I wouldn’t say better, which is the wrong word…to make it mainly better for whoever is the race director.”

The former Red Bull engineer appreciates that the Australian has a lot on his plate during a race weekend.

“It’s a very difficult job but I’m not here to protect Michael or anything. It is very difficult,” he affirmed.

Haas endured a dismal season in 2021, failing to score points throughout the entirety of the year and managing a best finish of P13 through Mick Schumacher in Budapest.

With the cars radically changing in 2022, Steiner hopes that the team can climb back towards the points.

“The expectation is just to be able to fight for points and fight with the other drivers who are in Formula 1,” he said.

Schumacher entered F1 as a rookie alongside Nikita Mazepin last season, and the pair endured a rocky time of it during the year.

The Austrian has described running two such inexperienced racers as like “having children,” but now emphasises that this is their chance to take learnings from 2021 and translate them into a strong performance in the upcoming season.

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“With their rookie year we were always very open that the expectations were not high but that they had the opportunity to learn and to establish themselves in Formula 1,” he stated.

“Now this year we have to prove that we are on the right track with the drivers.”

Haas are yet to reveal a launch date for their new car, but have unveiled their livery for this upcoming season, which is virtually identical to 2021.

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