Senior Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has defended race director Michael Masi following the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi came under enormous pressure at various points during the 2021 season, often being the focal point of several contentious moments.
His actions in Baku, Spa, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the season finale were all placed under intense scrutiny, leading Mercedes to threaten an appeal against the championship result.
Max Verstappen took the title from Sir Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi following a decision from Masi to allow five lapped cars through ahead of a Safety Car restart, appearing to contravene Formula 1 regulations.
As a result Verstappen passed Hamilton on the final lap, prompting an instant protest from the German manufacturer. When this was denied, they lodged a formal intent to appeal and also boycotted the FIA Prize-Giving Gala.
On the morning of the ceremony, Mercedes withdrew their appeal, stating that they would “hold the FIA accountable” for an investigation F1’s governing body is currently carrying out into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Marko said he is pleased that Mercedes have backed away from their appeal.
“I can only say that this was a grand gesture by Mercedes, Hamilton has definitely been unlucky, but so were we at Silverstone, in Budapest and in Baku. This is how races can go, but I understand the disappointment,” the Austrian said.
Marko also reckons that newly elected FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem needs to give Masi more support during races:
“The new FIA president will have to come up with a new system that will help Masi, because he can’t do it alone. At the moment there is too much pressure on his shoulders.
“I think, for example, that team managers and team bosses should no longer be able to speak to Masi through a direct line during a race.
“In addition, the rules need to be simplified. Too many decisions have been made that have displeased either us or Mercedes. There needs to be more uniformity in the judgements.”
F1 technical director Ross Brawn has previously stated that communication between teams and the race director will cease in 2022.