Mercedes deny dropping Abu Dhabi GP appeal in exchange for Masi sacking

Reports have emerged that Mercedes reached a deal to remove Michael Masi as race director following the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

The Mercedes F1 Team have denied making a deal to oust race director Michael Masi from his role after the controversial events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

Max Verstappen beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the championship in the season finale, but his maiden F1 title was marred by controversy.

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Masi sparked fury in the world of Formula 1 when he allowed only the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves late on in the race following Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

Verstappen made a pit-stop for fresh tyres, while Mercedes kept Hamilton on track in fear of losing track position so late in the grand prix.

Initially, Masi made the call not to allow any lapped runners through but changed his mind with one lap remaining.

He allowed only the five cars between the leaders to overtake the Safety Car, but left the others in their place.

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff exclaimed on the radio to Masi that the closing events of the championship were “so not right,” before the team protested the race result after the grand prix.

READ: ‘Unacceptable’ for Wolff, Red Bull to put Masi under pressure – Marko

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When this was denied, they lodged an intention to appeal but rescinded this a few days later, instead promising to hold the FIA “accountable” for an investigation they are now carrying out into the events of the season finale.

Reports have now emerged that Mercedes had struck a deal with the FIA to remove Masi and Nikolas Tombazis – the governing body’s head of single-seater technical matters – in exchange for the team dropping their appeal.

The BBC reports that a “senior source” revealed to them that Mercedes “dropped their appeal against the results of the race after agreeing a quid pro quo deal with the FIA”.

Continuing, they added: “This deal was said to be that Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would no longer be in their positions for the 2022 season.”

In response to these allegations, it is reported that the serial Constructors’ Champions have denied that “any such deal was reached.”

Instead, they have taken the FIA’s reassurances that they will investigate the matter.

READ: Hamilton’s retirement could be imminent after ‘big blow to the head’

Mohammed ben Sulayem, who took over from Jean Todt as FIA president at the end of 2021, reassures that this is a matter he is taking seriously.

“I am going to study the case of what happened in Abu Dhabi, and a decision will be taken how to go forward without any pressure from anyone,” ben Sulayem explained.

Despite Hamilton missing out on his eighth Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes did manage to claim their record-eighth-straight Constructors’ Championship in Abu Dhabi, with Red Bull finishing in P2.

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