Wolff says Masi was manipulated by Red Bull last season – Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has claimed in a Sky Sports documentary that former F1 race director Michael Masi was manipulated by Red Bull at the end of last season.
Duel is the name of a new Sky Sports documentary that follows the 2021 world championship battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. The documentary is illustrated with exclusive interviews with the key people at the centre of the battle last year, but also the huge controversy at the end of the season that cost Michael Masi his job.
In the documentary, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff looks back at Lewis Hamilton’s controversial defeat of rival Max Verstappen, a defeat he says was due to “bad decisions” made by the race director who was manipulated by Red Bull – the Austrian pointing to both the Abu Dhabi final and the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia as concrete examples.
As a reminder, in Saudi Arabia Michael Masi made a ‘deal’ with Red Bull’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley on grid positions on the restart of the race after a stoppage, despite having changed his mind about the safety car rules amidst Red Bull’s protests in Abu Dhabi during the last round, all of which was broadcast live on television.
“Jonathan Wheatley did his job. He turned Michael Masi the race director [in their camp], not just in Abu Dhabi, but before, and Max [Verstappen] probably owes him a lot,” insisted Toto Wolff in the Duel documentary.
Regarding Michael Masi – who will no longer be Formula 1 race director this year after being replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich – Wolff added: “I haven’t spoken to him [since Abu Dhabi] and I never want to speak to him again. His decisions were wrong and I’m sure he regrets them. The FIA should have seen much earlier that there was a problem, there was a structural problem, a personality problem.”
Max Verstappen finally won the title after overtaking Hamilton on the final lap of the race in Abu Dhabi, helped by Masi’s decision to run on fresh soft tyres while his rival Lewis Hamilton was on old hard tyres. On this subject, Wolff said:
“It’s like a football match where a team is 1-0 up and suddenly the referee says, ‘now it’s the golden goal. 0-0, whoever scores the next goal wins’. And by the way, you have to play without studs.”