Brundle slams ‘totally unacceptable’ lobbying of Masi by team principals

Michael Masi just completed his third season as Formula 1's race director under much scrutiny after the controversial end to the season finale.

F1 commentator Martin Brundle has slammed the “totally unacceptable” lobbying of race director Michael Masi by team principals following the controversy-packed 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Masi just wrapped up his third season as Formula 1’s race director and safety delegate under much scrutiny after the controversial end to the season finale, which saw Max Verstappen snatch the 2021 World Championship from Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Specifically, Masi’s handling of the Safety Car restart (particularly, whether or not lapped cars should have been allowed to un-lap themselves) played a larger-than-expected role in the title decider on Sunday. 

Brundle believes Masi is having trouble with his role as race director, after being suddenly thrust into the role following the passing of his predecessor, Charlie Whiting, during the 2019 Australian GP weekend. 

Brundle added that he “doesn’t seek to make excuses” for Masi in his column for Sky Sports, but recognises there has been a lot asked of the Australian over the past months.

There have been 39 F1 races over the last 17 months, all taking place during a pandemic, suggesting Masi could be stretched thin in his role as race director. 

Brundle wrote: “Like Charlie, he’s responsible for signing these things off, except we have a lot more races in far-reaching places now”. 

The former F1 racer went on to compare the current climate at the FIA to that of the past, explaining how Whiting wasn’t afraid to use FIA President Max Mosely as an intimidation tool for the teams. 

READ: Sebastian Vettel jumps to stewards’ defence after Abu Dhabi controversy

Article continues below

“Charlie W was rightly revered and feared in equal measure, and any sign of a team playing games in any way would quickly see Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley wading in, and then you were in trouble,” Brundle wrote.

He continued to make comparisons to Whiting’s long reign as race director, adding that Masi does not instil the same fear and unflappability. 

“Until this year, any correspondence from the pit wall to race control was not broadcast, and it’s totally unacceptable to hear team bosses and team managers even pre-empting situations and lobbying.

“They are only doing their jobs, but in earlier days would have been given short shrift by Charlie.

“Toto Wolff’s outrageous call to Masi to lobby for no Safety Car for Antonio Giovinazzi’s stricken Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi, and Christian Horner telling the world seven days earlier how much F1 missed Charlie Whiting because the restart grid in Saudi Arabia felt like a ‘Souk negotiation’, which didn’t age well for him, simply wouldn’t have happened before.

“They are super competitive and under pressure people using all the tools available to them, and the power base and direction of communication has totally changed. Those tools need to be more regulated.

“And so, in what should have been one of F1’s finest ever moments, instead we had anger and confusion,” he added.

Follow us on Google News to never miss an F1 story