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Masi: “I have no authority to instruct the teams to do anything”

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The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has quickly become one of the most controversial races in recent history. Mistakes and misconducts from both drivers challenging for the title led to an important involvement of the race director Michael Masi, who was heavily criticized afterwards.

During the second red flag, chaos came upon as the starting grid wasn’t easily understandable. In particular, both Hamilton and Verstappen ran wide at turn 1 with the Dutchman gaining an advantage and overtaking outside of the track and Esteban Ocon overtaking Hamilton to be in second place. Hence, FIA race director Michael Masi “offered” Red Bull to have Verstappen start from third.

Although Verstappen’s brilliant start at the green flag helped reduce the controversy, teams and fans particularly despised the decision taken. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner defined the situations to as “like being down the souk”, while Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski admitted it was “pretty surreal… like being at the local market”.

However, Masi spoke out to on his decision, insisting it was a completely regular procedure: “It’s very much a normal discussion that happens regularly on a number of occasions and has had all year and previously. I wouldn’t call it a deal.”

The Australian went on to discuss the powers correlated to his position: “From a race directors’ perspective, I have no authority to actually instruct the teams to do anything. In that situation, I can give them an offer, the ability to do that, but the choice is theirs. The stewards are obviously empowered to impose penalties, but I can give them my perspective, so that’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up.”

According to the FIA race director, the “offer” only caused controversy because of the situation: “When I saw it [the Verstappen/Hamilton incident] happen at Turn 2, I immediately suggested to the stewards that I’m going to give the team the ability to give that place back. The red flag obviously ensued very quickly thereafter, and that was absolutely the priority before we got going again. Being under a suspension, it was the ability to effectively correct that before we went racing again.”-

Headline Image: FIA

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