Horner: Mercedes’ intimidation led to Masi’s departure

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has accused his Mercedes rivals of “bullying” behaviour leading to the departure of FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi.

The future of Michael Masi has been a major topic of discussion throughout the off-season, following the Australian’s controversial decision in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi 2021 Grand Prix. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton felt the drivers’ title had been unfairly taken away, while Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff pushed for changes to be made by the FIA. The Austrian even hinted that his star driver would not return to Formula One in 2022, while Hamilton remained silent for over two months.

In the end, the FIA decided to change the structure of race management from the 2022 season onwards and opted to remove Michael Masi, who still has a role within the FIA but is no longer involved in Formula One. When asked about the whole affair, the Red Bull team boss said Mercedes had a lot to do with the FIA’s decision to remove Masi.



“Was it right to fire him based on pressure that was placed on him from a rival team? That for me was wrong, that’s tantamount to bullying. It’s passively aggressive.”

“Yes, Michael did make mistakes and it was frustrating, but you have to look at the role that he was in and the tools that he had at his disposal.

“You can’t just place the blame on Michael. It’s unfair to do that.” Horner told the BBC.


The British team boss went on to explain that, in his opinion, the former F1 race director was treated unacceptably, both by fans threatening him on social media and by the FIA, which did not sufficiently support its race director.

“We were on the receiving end of many of Michael’s errors,” Horner said. “But he is in a high-pressure role in a high-pressure sport.

“But what it is unforgivable is the trolling, the abuse online, the death threats that he and his family had. That absolutely cannot be condoned in any way.

“That has nothing to do with the sport. It’s just out-and-out bullying and I would not accept that in any way within our organisation.

“That’s why I spoke up for Michael because I felt that he had not had any support. He had not had any backing. That he’d been hung out to dry and that there was this concerted campaign that was very passive-aggressively focused against him.

“I will always stand up for someone who is being bullied. Bullying is not acceptable.”


Many people feel that Michael Masi did not apply the rules correctly at the final round of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, including allowing only five cars to split behind the safety car. Christian Horner believes that the rules were applied differently on that day.

“I don’t believe the rules were not followed correctly. I think that they were applied perhaps differently to how they had been before by not allowing every single car to unlap.”

He added that “if [the stewards] felt the rules were not applied correctly, they wouldn’t have declared the result” Horner said.



Christian Horner also refuted the idea that it was Red Bull who put the greatest pressure on Michael Masi over the radio when the race director had to decide whether to bring out a safety car after the crash of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.

The Milton Keynes team boss denied putting the race director under pressure at that particular moment in the Grand Prix, with Horner believing that it was his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff who put the most pressure on Masi.

“You’ve got to report the facts,” Horner said. “Who was the first to call Michael? It wasn’t me. I’m only responding to the pressure being applied on him that I can hear in my ear from a rival team. It’s my job as the principal of the team that I represent to defend it.

“I think it was probably less than the pressure that our rivals were pushing on to not have a safety car. Or to back-track a lap. Or not to have a virtual safety car, or for the virtual safety car to go into a full safety car.”





9 responses to “Horner: Mercedes’ intimidation led to Masi’s departure

  1. Like RBR didn’t pressure him at all.
    Of course, Horner said what he did as his team benefitted from rule manipulation.

  2. Horner and RB will ALWAYS defend Masi, the decisions, and their position until the day they die, as to do so otherwise will be to undermine and devalue Max’s (deserved – and I say that as a Hamilton fan) championship, and admit to their role in the whole messy, unnecessary situation.

    All he is doing now is deflecting away from RB’s complicity in the mess on the day, towards Mercedes supposed role in the aftermath. I say supposed as aside from public statements and rumours from journalists, nobody outside of the teams and the FIA is ever going to know what anyone actually said and to whom

  3. If Horner was any normal person which he isn’t, he loves his name in the press, a typical narcissist and very bad for F1 he is toxic. I remember F1 being a great, honourable and fair sport for decades and then Red Bull and Horner arrived and along with it dirty tricks and now corruption. True racing fans are turning away in droves, how much longer can this cheating bastard be able to soil the sport I have loved for over forty years.
    His latest ploy to target Mercedes with bullying and is beyond ironic and downright offensive given how he bullied Masi in Abu Dhabi and now expects us to believe all the nonsense he is peddling and is apparently protecting F1 from bullying, you couldn’t make it up!
    As wrong and corrupt as Abu Dhabi was, Max is now champion albeit a paper and unworthy one and I’m hoping this season will be fair racing without Stewards deciding races and leaving it to the drivers. Max is such a childish brat who has been teasing Lewis with childish posts and now wants his car with No.1, has he no sense of pride at all! All I hope is this season Lewis shows Max how a real champion behaves and from the end of last season where Lewis was beating Max out of sight so much that all Max could do was try and drive into him with every opportunity, something that he couldn’t do in the last race as he couldn’t get near him.

    • ” I remember F1 being a great, honourable and fair sport for decades “.

      So the dirty tricks from Schumacher… and Senna… and Prost? The Spygate… the Ferrari illegal engine. And on top of that… the totally corrupt reign of JM Ballestere, the dirty deals Berny made for decades. And that’s just off the top of my head. You just proved that you only take into account what you want to see and turn a blind eye for everytrhing else. Oh and for your hobby: Som Tipoos to pik on 🙂

    • Having seen your comments on other articles, i’m beginning to think you’re one of these teenage deluded Hamilton fanboys. Chill out Big Steve.

  4. What a bunch of crap. The only decision that had to be made was to position the cars as they were when the safety car was announced to the drivers.

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