Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has criticised the FIA’s decision to replace Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi.
Last week, FIA President Mohamed Ben Sulayem announced that Michael Masi will not continue in the role following the controversial events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi had been accused of selectively interpreting the regulations to get the race restarted for a final lap shoot out.
This created an opportunity for Max Verstappen to overtake rival Lewis Hamilton. This secured Verstappen the title.
However, Christian Horner has rejected claims that Masi had failed to follow the rules and spoke about how he was unimpressed by the decision to replace him to TalkSport:
“I think that it’s a difficult one, it’s the FIA’s business,
“I think it’s harsh.
“He was in a very difficult position last year. We feel that a lot of decisions went against us last year and I think when you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resource compared to what the teams have, there’s such a massive, massive difference.
“It’s good to hear they’re bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and they’re bringing back one of the most experienced guys, Herbie Blash.
“I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael, that’s not right. That was my personal feeling.”
Horner went on to insist Masi “didn’t actually do anything wrong in accordance with the rules.”
He said Mercedes should have used opportunities to pit Hamilton, though if they would have, Hamilton would have dropped behind Verstappen:
“It’s a bit of a smokescreen because, when you look back at that race, Mercedes had two opportunities to pit,
“There was a Virtual Safety Car and there was a Safety Car and the driver was asking to put on both times and they left him out. And that’s what exposed him at the end of the race. Tactically, we got it right on the day and it’s those small margins.”
Horner explained how “When the crash came five laps from the end with Nicholas Latifi we reacted immediately. We got Max in, we pitted him for a new set of tyres. Mercedes left Lewis out on what would become 44-lap-old tyres at the end of their life. And obviously Max had to make that pass on the last lap which he did.
“I think there’s been a bit of hiding around some of the controversy because the bottom line is tactically we got it right. Max delivered the move and became the world champion, so it was a phenomenal result.”
Michael Masi’s position will now be shared by two people, but Horner said he isn’t sure that the role should be divided:
“It’s not something personally I would do, because it would be like rotating the race engineer or the team manager in our team. You sign up, you do all the races. You want that consistency.
“But if they’re not actually trackside, you hope they’d be supporting them remotely so they’ve got that consistency. The one thing that drivers want is consistent application of the rules rather than penalties changing from race-to-race. I think that’s the challenge the FIA have got to obviously address the season.”