Wolff doesn’t want FIA to just fire Masi after ‘rigged’ Abu Dhabi GP

Max Verstappen beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the title on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a controversial Safety Car restart.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not want the FIA to simply fire race director Michael Masi following the highly controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Instead, the Austrian has called for major changes to the decision-making process in the sport.

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Masi deployed the Safety Car late on in the race following a crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, and Red Bull used this opportunity to pit Max Verstappen for fresh tyres.

Sir Lewis Hamilton was left out on track by Mercedes, as they feared losing track position to the Dutchman, especially if the race were to run out of laps to resume racing.

This left five lapped cars between the two championship contenders, and Masi has initially ruled that no lapped cars would be allowed to pass the Safety Car.

READ: Wolff suggests Hamilton ‘lost faith’ in Formula 1 after Abu Dhabi controversy

However, in a strange turn of events, Masi then allowed only the five between the leaders to go through, leaving Verstappen to pass Hamilton on the very last lap to win the race to claim his maiden F1 crown.

Labour Peer Lord Peter Hain was left disgusted at the manner in which the title battle culminated, and claimed that the race was “perverted.”

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“As a lifelong Formula 1 fan, I thought it was a perverted outcome. The finish was effectively rigged by the stewards in order to produce to a dramatic finale for the theatre rather than a racing outcome,” he said.

“I think it has left a sour taste unless you are a die hard Verstappen fan, but even many of them have admitted that it has left an unpleasant taste in their mouth.

“Ok, the rules are very complex for the average fan, but at least there is a consistency there. This was clearly contrived and manufactured to allow that kind of finish.”

Calls have since been made for Masi to be relieved of his duties as race director, but Wolff believes that the FIA’s issues run deeper.

“It’s a bigger problem, my values are simply not compatible with the decisions that were made. It is not just about replacing the race director. The whole decision-making system must be improved,” said Wolff.

The Austrian has no problem disagreeing with other teams over whose fault a particular incident was, but he has no tolerance for inconsistent stewarding.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff in 2021.v1

“It’s one thing to drive hard and have different points of view between drivers and teams, that’s normal. But inconsistent decisions inevitably lead to controversy, much of it totally unnecessary,” he said.

Wolff added that he was unimpressed by race control as a whole in 2021, but never more so than in the season finale.

“But this last decision had the biggest impact, and from a sports perspective, it was catastrophic because it decided the World Championship.”

The 49-year-old rejects the notion that Masi was instructed to make a move that would influence the result for entertainment purposes.

“I would never say something like that, because in the end we provide entertainment, but that entertainment has to follow the sport and not the other way around,” he explained.

READ: Mercedes would have lost with ‘more composure’ if Lauda was still around – Marko

F1’s current CEO is former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, who spearheaded the Scuderia between 2008 and 2014, and Wolff knows that the Italian is all about pure racing.

“Stefano [Domenicali] is a real racing man and would not be interested in intervening in the races for the entertainment factor,” Wolff added.

While he understands Masi’s plight in what grew into an extremely challenging position last season, Wolff ultimately said he does not think the Australian followed the rules of the sport.

“I can’t judge the pressure the race director is under at the time, but the rules are the rules.”

Despite Hamilton losing out on his eighth F1 title, Mercedes were able to wrap up their record eighth-straight Constructors’ Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes’ protest of the race result was denied by the stewards, and the Silver Arrows withdrew an intention to appeal four days later.

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