Masi had ‘referee’s right’ to make restart call – Marko

2021 F1 season

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Red Bull motorsport consultant, Helmut Marko, says FIA race director Micheal Masi had every right to restart the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the final lap.

Max Verstappen won the world championship for Red Bull in the final race in Abu Dhabi after passing Lewis Hamilton on the last lap during a controversial safety car restart where only five lapped cars were allowed to unlap themselves.

The decision by Masi left Hamilton exposed on worn tyres and allowed Verstappen to immediately attack his rival on fresh soft tyres.

Speaking on Austrian television show Sport und Talk, Marko said Masi was right to try and restart the race and not let the final lap end under safety car.

“One must also credit Michael Masi who wanted to finish the race under racing conditions,” said Marko.

“With IndyCar or NASCAR, for example, there is a rule that they even add a lap so that the race can be finished under racing conditions. There were five cars in between and he just sent them away, so that you could drive this last lap. It’s like the referee, he has the right and if he decides like that, then that’s valid.”

While IndyCar rules do not include a provision for extending race distances in the event of a caution period, the series does regularly make use of red flags to prevent races ending under yellow flags. For over a decade, NASCAR has exercised its ‘Overtime’ procedure, which allows for up to three attempts at a two lap, green flag race to the finish, if the original scheduled distance is reached under caution.

Marko praised the actions of the Red Bull team in reacting when the safety car was triggered for Nicholas Latifi’s accident in the closing laps and bringing Verstappen in for fresh tyres.

“Our team acted sensationally,” Marko said. “Immediately switched to the soft tyres and then, yes, Hamilton had no chance. He (Max) asked me afterwards what I was thinking – ‘you will win it’, it was clear.”

Having been brought into the Red Bull programme to help identify and devlop driving talent, Marko says he is looking forward to seeing much more the 24-year-old’s abilities can improve into the future.

“To see him move a car so skilfully at the limit, yes, that warms my heart,” he said.

“We don’t need any criticism or anything, as we are actually always in agreement. These constant improvements, I’m excited to see what’s next.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 134 comments on “Masi had ‘referee’s right’ to make restart call – Marko”

    1. Why do we have an article about this troll? I barely even read any articles that has Marko in it and just ignore everything.

      1. @krichelle Because these kind of “news” brings clicks and controversy. RaceFans is basically tabloid these days.

        1. 1. “Masi had ‘referee’s right’ to make restart call”
          Well, Marko would say that, wouldn’t he? 🤔

          2. “Because these kind of ‘news’ brings clicks and controversy. RaceFans is basically tabloid these days”
          Well said…

        2. I think it’s worth knowing how Red Bull are defending the decision. Sure, we can disagree but it’s not like they’re rehashing an old quote.

          It’s like with some of the crazy things Ecclestone used to say, light needs to be shined on it in the press for those who actually have an impact on decisions to actually hear it.

          Just because people are tired of the issue and want it to go away doesn’t mean that it does. This will be talked about on both sides for a long time to come, or at least it should be…

          1. Just as Hamilton taking out Verstappen at Silverstone will be talked about for a very long time, as it should be, and how justice in the end was served in stunning fashion.

            1. Verstappen took himself out by ignoring the car alongside.

      2. Well you hav commented on it so read the article. Racefans got their views and quite rightfully so. As to the subject, it was a grey zone. Needs clarification, near the end of a race all attempts must be made so race does not end under a safety car, all lapped cars should be let past at 1st opportunity and get 10 seconds up the road then restart. My only issue last race was there was no clear directive to follow and it was a mess. If a clarification like this was known Merc may have pitted Hamilton as it was a no brainer.

      3. It’s times like this, when Marko is spouting his usual nonsense, that I really miss Niki Lauda.

        Someone with real gravitas and a fairly grounded perspective.

    2. No such right exists in the rules.

      Why are you reprinting this nonsense of a press release?

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        30th December 2021, 20:57

        Because else Keith actually has to spend time to write an article on the new Driver Champion, something he has failed to do so far, guess Lewis 8th article was ready half way through the race only to have to stay in drafts till maybe next season.

        This copy paste of Marko statement is much quicker and likely generates more clicks and revenue for the website than an quality article on Max, hence it is posted.

        1. If they want to make money from click fraud and people farming ads, rather than fan supporters, this is how they do it.

          Sad.

      2. Noframingplease (@)
        31st December 2021, 9:02

        Oh yes there is: article 15.3 + note E of the sporting regulations

        1. no, this states the RD can overrule the clerk, but not the rules altogether. just waiting for reverse grid starts while SC is doing donuts in the runoff.

          1. That still is an interpretation not followed by the stewards.
            They decided no rules are broken.
            So be it.
            You can always go in repeat mode now..
            Still the hard facts are: no rules broken.
            Next..

            1. rules were broken. no matter how often you state the opposite.

            2. Rules weren’t broken. No matter how often you state the opposite.

            3. and still they were broken

    3. God almighty, can this be left to die off now, please?

      I can’t wait for the page full of toxic comments from both sides bickering and arguing. It’s all so tiresome.

      1. Seriously..

        It’s done, stop asking this old fool

    4. Ooh no, not a new opinion on the matter now we just finished this discussion, once and for all, in the comment sections under all the other articles! ;)

      1. This has to be a troll/funny article to symbolize how bad the end of season was. We barely even get articles about Marko.

    5. First off, never take Marko seriously. The rest of this comment is a summary of all the reasons in this article alone why you shouldn’t take him seriously.

      1. As the article says, Indy doesn’t use overtime, it uses red flags, and when Masi tried that in Baku, he got a load of criticism. And it only works in NASCAR because they have refuelling. F1 teams fuel their cars for the number of race laps and no more.

      2. The usual unreasonable worship of Max. Like, he’s a great driver, very quick and very talented, but the amount Marko praises him and refuses to even suggest criticism is unreasonable. To improve, you need to know your weaknesses, and a combination of Max himself and those around him are shielding those weaknesses from him There are certainly areas Max can improve, but unless he, and equally importantly those around him, realise it, those improvements will never come.

      3. This is a contentious topic, but to me there is no explicit referee’s right in the regulations. Yes, Masi has “overriding authority” over the Safety Car, but in the context of the article it appears to suggest that authority is over the Clerk of the Course (although the whole article is ambiguous), not the regulations that govern that procedure. Otherwise why have the regulations at all? Of course finishing the season under green flag conditions would have been a nice way to round out the championship, but not by contradicting and breaking the rules that govern the sport. And yes, the teams agreed to try and finish races under green, but that’s an agreement, not a rule. It means nothing from a legal standpoint. Break agreements before you break rules.

      1. Yes, Masi has “overriding authority” over the Safety Car, but in the context of the article it appears to suggest that authority is over the Clerk of the Course (although the whole article is ambiguous), not the regulations that govern that procedure.

        Just for my (and I guess everyone’s) reference: you mean this article (article 15.3 + note E of the sporting regulations), right?
        15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement: […] e) The use of the safety car.

        1. Yep that’s the one I was on about. Should have referenced it myself. While the full meaning is very much up for debate (it is the sort of thing that could/would have to be settled in a courtroom), to me that essentially reads the Race Director can overall the Clerk of the Course on the following matters:… use of the safety car.

          However, I’m not a lawyer or an expert and so my interpretation may be completely wrong. But on context of the whole article, that’s what I believe the article is trying to convey.

          1. If I’m correct (based on Wikipedia and this Autosport article) the Clerk of the Course is only responsible for making sure the track is clear and safe to race.

            I’m no lawyer either, but it seems indeed that says that the Race Director has the lead (over the Clerk of the Course) when it comes to calling the shots on the use of the Safety Car, which makes this specific article more of a safety-issue (was it safe to let cars through? – I don’t think that is so much a point of discussion). It doesn’t say anything about letting only part of the field through.

            Anyway, maybe all this was already highlighted in any of the other 100 articles about the matter. We can at least safely come to the conclusion…that nobody should take Helmut Marko too serious :)

      2. And yes, the teams agreed to try and finish races under green,

        Merc should have pitted HAM if they agreed this. He would have overtaken VER easily whether he had track position or not if the race was restarted. Bad strategy call again by Merc.

        1. And yes, the teams agreed to try and finish races under green,

          When not if…

          1. Yeah, but the race might not have gone green. You can’t be taking risks such as giving away track position under a SC that might not come in before the end when there is so much at stake. And they were unsure whether it would restart as well (you can here Bonno telling Hamilton it may not restart on the radio). Merc were between a rock and a hard place in terms of strategy: pit, see Verstappen stay out, and risk it not going green, or stay out, let Verstappen pit and risk it going green. With the benefit of hindsight, they may have made the wrong decision, but there was nothing else to do in their position at the time. And I’m not really a fan of Merc, and have been critical of their strategy on several occasions this season, but this one wasn’t their fault.

            And the agreement to try and end under green wasn’t an Abu Dhabi specific agreement, it’s been the consensus for a while, hence the late red flag in Baku. Which is another risk Merc had with their strategy, which was pit, lose track position, and then see the race red flagged and Verstappen given a new set of tyres as well. There was really nothing better Merc could have done imo.

            1. ‘This is getting manipulated, man!’, and manipulated it got. Decisions would always have been taken in the way to gift the championship to Max, no matter what Merc would have done. If they had pitted, then the race would have ended under SC. It was clear, they wanted a new champ, and Latifis crash gave them the opportunity.

            2. Roman, they could’ve done plenty of things across the season if they wanted a new champion, I believe they’d have had a lap of green flag racing no matter what, having said this verstappen might have more aggressively defended than hamilton, so giving track position could’ve been a risk.

            3. There was really nothing better Merc could have done imo.

              I’m inclined to think so too. Merc were always going to be cornered in a late SC-situation like this. They had more to lose, because they had to finish and finish ahead of Verstappen (i.e. they couldn’t afford a collision of any kind) and because of track position they could only respond to Red Bull (to be fair to RB: despite Hamilton’s dominance they didn’t give up and made sure they stayed in Hamilton’s pit-stop window).

              If all of this would have played out a lap or two earlier and all correct procedures would have been followed, but we were still left with one lap under green in which Hamilton lost the race and the championship in similar fashion, I’m sure the outcry afterwards would’ve been similar. Maybe (even) more directed at Latifi rather than Masi. It’s just a very sour way to lose something that seemed in the bag, only slightly enhanced by (at best) a debatable implementation of the rules. If people want to call Verstappen the paper-champion now, they would’ve called him the Latifi-champion otherwise.

              My personal take is that (had all cars been allowed to unlap) the chances of Sainz on old hard tyres having a go at Verstappen on new softs are as big as someone sending it down further up the field and taking one of the leaders out, or someone getting a flat tyre because of debris of the Latifi-crash. Big ‘what-ifs?’, which only make it justifiable to bring in the rest of the season’s ‘what-ifs’, which in turn shows that Verstappen all in all isn’t a undeserving champion at all.

        2. “Merc should have pitted HAM if they agreed this. ”

          So Merc should have expected Masi to break several rules just to restart ?

          1. Sigh..
            When the sc came out it was an ordinaire gamble to hope op a race ending sc.
            Until the fire in the brakes it was very likely that the race would restart.
            The moment to pit was in the 6 corners Mercedes haf when the sc was called out. After that it was to late.
            They gambled and lost.

            1. sigh. the rules were broken.

    6. Yes, yes Helmut this is so right

      1. Comment of the day!!

    7. The more I think about it the more disastrous this debacle feels. The blunt truth of it is that Masi hesitated for too long then when it was too late thought we needed a racing finish, however the likes of Sainz didn’t get a fair crack at Verstappen at all while Verstappen had it handed to him.

      There’s just no excuse for why Sainz and the others behind did t have the same chance to race competitively that Verstappen magically got. The rules were not followed. Rules Masi himself is quoted stating a year prior.

      It’s a farce and I feel bad for Max because honestly I’m never going to feel like he really won his first championship fairly, because he just didn’t. (And no I don’t need to hear about how Max deserved the championship so it all worked out in the end, the deciding race was not contested fairly).

      1. @davidhunter13 I also feel sorry for Max, but more because he has to deal with the outcome of this when he did nothing wrong (specifically in Abu Dhabi that is). There are arguments over what he did earlier in the season, as we’re all too aware, but in the final few laps in Abu Dhabi he did nothing wrong; everything wrong was completely out of his hands. He was presented with a situation, and took full advantage of it in a way any driver would, it just so happens that the scenario was so seriously flawed that it has led to this fallout, and he has to deal with said fallout. Equally, I feel for Lewis, perhaps even more so, because he’s lost a championship through decisions also out of his hands. He didn’t make a mistake, nor did he lack race pace, he was just the victim of the seriously flawed scenario.

      2. If Masi is allowed to continue such actions, it wont be long before there will be an investigation into match fixing.
        As I said in a previous post, Masi also tried to ensure Verstappen completed his lap in an unsafe situation during qualifying at a previous race. Is that doing it for the show or doing it to help a particular driver.
        We need rules that ensure the situation is clear for everyone.
        He more or less determined the finishing order from 10th place down.
        He then created a buffer between 2nd and 3rd/4th position.
        Believe it or not, some of the viewers were not interested in the outcome of the championship, but their favourite drivers racing for other positions.

        1. The removal of the yellow flags for Max was another nasty action, which only got undone by the so-called rogue marshal, who simply decided to do his job right.

          And also the non-penalty for the brake-test on a narrow 300+ straight is absurd. Every other driver would have faced severe consequences like DSQ.

          There was a reason why Merc saw the necessity to bring a lawyer to the final race. But even that could not prohibit what we had to witness in the final two laps. A shame, but sports was sacrified for manifacturing their desired result.

          The times of Schumi and Briatore at Benetton have been fairer, cause unsportive actions were only performed by the team and its drivers itself. Nowadays officials are in the middle of it.

          1. Noframingplease (@)
            31st December 2021, 9:26

            Yes, and also the 29 times Lewis crossed the track limit, and Max did it ones and got a penalty, the time lewis full speed under yellow during practice got no penalty (max in similar occasion got one)…. And the list goes on and on. At the end. You read what you wanna read and f1 (mainly british) knows that. Easy to say afterwards that Masi made a wrong decision when the outcome doesn’t suit GB and the Lewis fans. When billions of people are watching and half of them are thinking they know the regulations. We all know when he decided different the billions of Max fans would make the same noise as now for Lewis. For your info article 15.3 + note E of the sporting regulations is the rule that’s clarifying the action Masi made. Was it a fair decision? No, not for one race, but looking at the season, absolutely yes

            1. u meam when lewis was pushed off the track, and the yellow which didnt appear anywhere (while max was passing a very slow car under double yellow, shown by a marshall doing his job right) – those comparisons are ridiculous. 15.3 e does not justify the decisions to only let some cars overtake and pull the SC in in the same lap. and the season beforehand justifying to gift the title by decisions outside the rules, i guess we disagree about everything. btw: i am not british, its just i am not from the netherlands.

      3. Well, you can say Carlos Sainz was the real victim of Masi’s arbitrary decision. But his possibilities were way too slim.
        I like Carlos a lot but I don’t bleed to much for him anyway. Seriously, what chance had he to overtake the championship contenders? Both were clearly faster. He got a well deserved podium, and that’s it. The only way he could have won the race was with a big shunt ahead and a double DNF. And had that happened, Carlos would have won with or without the lapped cars ahead.
        Now Carlos has beaten Charles Leclerc in his debut at Fezza and is “best of the rest”, a position that for most of the season seemed to belong to Lando. Great for him. Nobody would have expected Carlos to end the season ahead of a Merc or RBR.

        1. Spin the wheel
          31st December 2021, 0:43

          Carlos could have easily won the race. When two cars battle they slow each other down by seconds per laps. Especially in this case as Ham and Ver were battling for multiple corners.

          He easily could have made an opportunistic pass or two on them both as they were battling each other would be more likely to want to finish ahead if theirtitle rival rather than defend against Carlos.

          He likely could have ended up aftijg the championship too. But we will never know as him, stroll, tsunoda and others never even got the chance to improve their position. Changes in position ranging from no points to points position, increased points the and even the possibility of a podium or two.

          1. @Spin the wheel

            Nonsense. Sainz was on old tires. He wouldn’t even have tried, since he is not dumb.

        2. It’s not about the chances, it’s about a sport operating in a manner that is fair for everyone, even if Sainz perhaps didn’t have a real shot at improving position. The fact is he was, and we were, completely denied being able to find out.

    8. Wanting to finish a race under green-flag conditions rather than SC neutralization is perfectly okay, but that was equally achievable without any unlapping, so no excuse for protocol breaching.

    9. You know F1 is in trouble when it sinks lower than Nascar in race fixing entertainment values

      1. As bad as the final was, I don’t think F1 will ever sink as low as ‘the chase for the championship.’

    10. Sounds to me like the bitter taste of a hollow victory is starting to rub – hence the needless justification.

    11. Interesting viewpoint. Maybe a bit counterweight for all the biased Mercedes fuelled nonsense.

      1. Nonsense to balance nonsense- got it.

        1. At least you agree you are supporting nonsense now :)

          1. I support you all the way :)

            1. “All the way ”
              Nice, that’s including the last lap then :)

    12. Everyone is focused on Verstappen and Redbull, but was this all about Honda?

      Honda are about to leave the sport after a tremendous investment and scant reward.

      Was this finally throw about them leaving with a better show for their efforts, a finally thank you from F1,
      with a view to their return and an incenstive for any other Motor manufacture?

      Tongue firmly in cheek, all the same ….

    13. “Marko praised the actions of the Red Bull team in reacting when the safety car was triggered for Nicholas Latifi’s accident in the closing laps and bringing Verstappen in for fresh tyres.”
      McLaren did the same strategy with RIC but the cars in front of RIC were sent ahead with RIC being forced to become a blocker for Max’s flank. But it was a fair referee’s decision.

    14. Everyone knows that the outcome of the championship was turned over by Masi with decisions outside the rulebook. Finding excuses like any doesnt mean all and 15.3 e means he can override all rules are ridiculous.

      Those happy with this manifactured result shall celebrate, but also need to accept that others like myself do not see their beloved driver as being a true world champion of this season. HAM was robbed and we end up with no legit champion. Its a pity, but Masi destroyed this years title.

      Keeping up with the Verstappens, next year every other weekend.

      1. Everyone knows

        keep on dreaming. The world is cheering for the new champion, hamfan are still grieving.
        It will pass.

        1. dream on in your verstappen wonderworld.

    15. The fact of the matter is Verstappen is the WDC, but his title will be forever tainted by Massi’s bumbling one sided decision in a failed attempt to ‘let them race’. Which is a shame as Verstappen is a very good driver, he’s in no need of outside assistance to win a championship.
      My thoughts are Massi should have red flagged the race fully cleared the track and had a 4 or 5 lap sprint to the flag, all cars on new rubber and a relatively equal chance.
      A question..how on earth will the working relationship between Massi and Mercedes continue? something has to change and I’m thinking Massi will move or no longer be in direct contact with the teams, his credibility is shot.

      1. When I say Massi’s credibility is shot I’m talking across the paddock not just with Wolff and Mercedes. They’ll keep their misgivings about him from the public’s ears but behind closed doors..

        1. I would not be surprised if Massi decides to step down into a less visible role. That surely would be best for everyone involved at this point, so that things can move on.

          1. @ferrox-glideh What makes you think Masi’s position is under any sort of threat? He delivered a grandstand finish to the season, and though it may have upset Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ fans, it a) provided a great spectacle and b) has kept people talking about it for weeks after the fact. I cannot see why his services would be dispensed with just to placate a minority of sore lovers.

            1. masi can no longer be trusted by anyone trusting in sporting fairness. so i dont see how he can continue in any responsible position. he manipulated the race results. and this is how the majority of fans and teams see it, apart from the orange ones (not meaning mc laren).

            2. @red-andy

              I think that Masi has put himself in a very bad spot, as the teams must see him as a fairly incompetent director that doesn’t master the race and is therefor able to be manipulated by skillful lobbying.

              All that lobbying just makes it harder for him, making him look even worse.

            3. I wouldn’t take this site as a fair representation of F1 fans as a whole. Outside of this site (and other British sites), the majority don’t seem to be quite so dramatically upset. Most say it was an incredible season that was one of the best they’ve seen.

            4. @red-andy No doubt it was a spectacular season, but Massi made more than several questionable calls over the year, with decisions going both Mercedes and Red Bulls way. I think that he lost credibility before the season ending race. After that kerfuffle, he is in the position of being a celebrity judge, and that is bad for the sport, even if it is good for Liberty’s bank account. I say this as a non-partisan fan.

      2. @johnrkh

        That would have been against the rules more so than what he chose to do and your argument for it is that you wanted more of a reset. You are essentially just arguing that you believe that the race was fixed, but that they should have been more extreme in that, going against the rules more, to give your favorite driver a clear advantage.

        You are essentially just defending Masi here, although you might not understand why.

        Which is a shame as Verstappen is a very good driver, he’s in no need of outside assistance to win a championship.

        Max had the slower car during the last race and definitely needed assistance. He wouldn’t have won without the outside assistance of Checo, the RB strategy and the lucky SC.

        I think that you know better than this. Surely you recognize that a driver can’t overcome too much of a car deficit against a driver with fairly similar skills.

        1. @aapje why, though? As per the regulations:

          If Competitors or officials are placed in immediate physical danger by cars running on the track,
          and the clerk of the course deems circumstances are such that the track cannot be negotiated
          safely, even behind the safety car, the sprint qualifying session or the race will be suspended.

          That’s 100% subjective and probably way easier to argue than what we actually had, which was nowhere in the regulations. Farcical as well, but arguably within the regulations; Masi would simply have to state that he felt the marshalls were in danger while removing Latifi’s car and all the debris, even with the safety car controlling the pace. What he actually did was nowhere in the regulations, and they said they didn’t do anything wrong (of course they’d say that) because their intepretation of 15.3-E is basically “the race director can do anything he wants”

          1. @warheart

            They just removed a stricken car. That is not a red flag unless the car bits are all over the road and there is no safe driving line.

        2. @aapje I don’t know how long you have been watching F1, but here’s the thing. F1 is a manufacturers championship that has had a drivers championship tacked on to it. So that means there is a contest to build the best car. Which Mercedes has been able to achieve, In combination with a top driver and a very well run team they have been able to dominate both the WDC and the WCC over the last several years.

          I fail see see where I defended Massi, in fact I made very clear I think he had a shocker!

          Also according to the FIA the race director has the power to do things such as stop the race if he feels it is to dangerous to continue under caution while marshals are on track. If he had done that immediately we would have seen a five lap sprint where all the front running cars would have been on new tyres and as close a possible to a fair chance at taking the title.

          Max had the slower car during the last race and definitely needed assistance. He wouldn’t have won without the outside assistance of Checo, the RB strategy and the lucky SC.

          Tuff!
          I’ll let you in a a little secret, I’m not a Hamilton fan. In fact being Australian I have a duty to beat or applaud those who beat the English in anything and everything :))
          But no one can ignore his or Vestappens skill’s. just like I can’t ignore a blatant misuse or allowing one’s self to be manipulated into misusing the rules.

          1. @johnrkh

            You are just explaining to me why your earlier comment is wrong. Fact is that any driver needs outside assistance to win a championship, as no amount of talent can make up for a bad or even mediocre car. This means that your insistence that his talent would guarantee him a championship anyway, is wrong. In fact, we’ve probably had the most car-dominant period in F1 history, with one team having a huge streak. This presumably means that there was less of a chance for drivers in other teams to challenge for a title than ever before.

            In many periods in F1 history, just sticking with one of the top teams for a while would mean a real title shot sooner or later. Yet a top team like Ferrari never had a real shot for over ten years now. Perhaps the new rules will create more competitiveness, but that is merely speculation at this point.

            I fail see see where I defended Massi, in fact I made very clear I think he had a shocker!

            Yet you argue in favor of manipulating the race with the express purpose of setting up a showdown that you consider to be fair, violating the rules in a worse way than what Masi did. That inherently makes Masi’s decisions look reasonable by comparison.

            Also according to the FIA the race director has the power to do things such as stop the race if he feels it is to dangerous to continue under caution while marshals are on track.

            Yet it is the clerk who primarily decides such things, based on the feedback of the marshals (posts). If the clerk tells Masi that a SC is sufficient, but Masi overrides it to get a more ‘fair’ showdown (in your opinion), then he is manipulating the race.

            You do realize that you offered a reason for Masi to make this choice and that reason was not ‘I believe that the track was too unsafe for a SC,’ but ‘I want a more fair showdown’? That motivation is inherently rule breaking, even if the same actions with a different motivation might be legal (but then the question remains on what grounds Masi would override the clerk).

            I have serious problems with your morals if you think that lying to get away with intentional rule breaking to manipulate the race, because you don’t like the consequences of the tire strategies that the teams chose, is better than probably unintentional rule breaking to try to get green flag racing between the championship contenders that is pretty much the same as if the accident happened a little earlier or was cleaned up a little sooner.

            1. @aapje It’s obvious that you are not a fan of the constructors championship and don’t like the fact that someone builds a better car using their own ideas and engineering skills. You see that as ‘cheating or gaining an unfair advantage, until it suits you of course :) Exactly how much ‘outside assistance’ is allowable, how far would you go gift your favourite driver a win? (rhetorical question)

              Yet you argue in favor of manipulating the race with the express purpose of setting up a showdown that you consider to be fair, violating the rules in a worse way than what Masi did.

              Worse because Verstappen may not have won the WDC?

              That inherently makes Masi’s decisions look reasonable by comparison

              Yes it may have done that in some eyes but it does not mean I defend him. I understand you are one of the more vocal Verstappen supporters on this site. So the twisting and dramatization of my words to suit your argument is not unexpected.
              Happy new year :)

            2. @johnrkh

              You are being absurd. Your argument was that Max was always going to end up with a championship due to his talent. I responded to that. This has nothing to do with liking or disliking the constructors championship, but I was simply rebutting your statement.

              But you seem uninteresting in actually reading what I wrote or defending your own statements, so…

            3. @aapje Stefan Johansson agrees with me about red flagging the race and leaving a 5 lap sprint, and that will do me thanks. :)
              The link is in the Zak Brown story.

    16. Res Bull shouldn’t be defending Masi, they were the benefit of a mistake and need to acknowledge that. Yes mistakes happen, but Mercedes has no opportunity for protest so there’s no need to worry about defending the incorrect procedure now.

      They got very lucky, and that was it. This kind of biased defense gives fuel to the conspiracies that Masi is Red Bull’s man and it was all a very orchestrated stitch up.

      1. but Mercedes has no opportunity for protest

        yes they had and lost.
        And decided to stop going on with the ridiculous appeal that never would have had any succes.
        Reality kicked in and it will happen here in time.

        1. maybe we will once get to know the reasons behind Masi’s decisions.

    17. It sickens me that Red Bull is not acknowledging that this was a massive screw up from which they benefited.
      But then again, I question the scruples of that team often. So, I shouldn’t be surprised.

      1. That team simply adopted the Verstappen way; Never admit fault.
        My fingers are crossed for their arrogance will be their downfall.

    18. ‘If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW
      OVERTAKE” has been sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that
      have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety
      car.’

      This is the exact wording of the rulebook. I read this as any does mean all. But that they didn’t have to let any lapped cars unlap themselves. If they absolutely have to finish under green flags (which they shouldn’t have to, in my opinion), they should have left all the lapped cars where they were. But there is absolutely no chance that letting some lapped cars overtake and not all was the correct decision.

      1. Of course you did. So did I and so did just about everyone else who are not the FIA, RBR or a Verstappen fan.

        There has been plenty of posts where comments are just hanging on the shirt tails of the stewards report as if they all magically knew that any only meant some.

    19. I bet he wouldn’t have said the same thing in 2012.

    20. I’m surprised by the comments on this article suggesting Michael Masi decided to only allow some cars to unlap themselves to “fix” the race in Verstappen’s favor. That’s a very cynical and far-fetched viewpoint and neglects the many other opportunities in the race he could have made a decision in Max’s favor and did not. The trend of poor decisions by the race director suggests this was only incompetence, not a deliberate decision to fix the race.

      To me it was a bad decision at a very critical time and nothing else. I’m neither a major supporter of Max or Lewis so I may have a less biased viewpoint, but the bickering from each side is both excessive and nauseating. There were countless ways either Max or Lewis could have picked up more points throughout the season due to bad decisions, bad luck, or bad calls by the stewards so I won’t let this single bad decision taint the championship for me. Max won his last points on track and he deserves to enjoy his World Champion title.

      I’m surprised no one is claiming that Latifi fixed the race in Hamilton’s favor with a deliberate shunt.

      1. @ryanoceros I don’t think Masi, The FIA, Liberty or anyone else fixed the race or made decisions to purposely benefit or hurt either team or driver.

        I think the decisions that were made were made purely for the benefit of the show just like the restart in Baku was.

        A race ending with a red flag or behind the SC isn’t ideal but with so few laps left it is sometimes the fairest, most sporting & therefore in my mind the best option.

        I’m just not keen on a race coming down to things that feel like they are been done purely for the show. A standing restart with 1-2 laps left for example essentially nullifies the laps to that point & ends up making the end feel like a bit of a lottery.

        1. And cause me to accidentally

          1. ….Hit post before my post was finished.
            Anyway to finish my point….

            I’m just not keen on a race coming down to things that feel like they are been done purely for the show. A standing restart with 1-2 laps left for example essentially nullifies the laps to that point & ends up making the end feel like a bit of a lottery.

        2. @stefmeister I ask this out of genuine curiosity because I am interested in why so many people seem to share this perspective.

          I’m just not keen on a race coming down to things that feel like they are been done purely for the show. A standing restart with 1-2 laps left for example essentially nullifies the laps to that point & ends up making the end feel like a bit of a lottery.

          I totally understand this sentiment, but if we can put Abu Dhabi and its championship-deciding context aside for a second and look at this from the point of view of a ‘typical’ race – e.g. like with Baku – do you think race control should not endeavour to get races going again before we run out of laps under Safety Car?

          I completely get the point that a standing restart with two laps to go, like in Baku, virtually renders everything that came before it in the previous 90 minutes or whatever redundant, but there is an argument to be made that a Grand Prix is 300km + one lap and that having the final four or five laps run effectively under caution conditions means the race ‘ends’ before that distance is completed.

          As racing fans, do we not want to see races finish under green if it is possible? Is that not preferable to missing out on a ‘racing’ finish, because of an incident where the race director has the power to throw a red flag and ‘pause’ the race to allow for a green flag finish?

          I’m not saying this is how I feel about it – and, again, Abu Dhabi was a completely different context that made it far messier and uncomfortable – but after Baku, I was surprised with how many people appeared to be upset with Masi’s decision to suspend the race with a red flag and then restart the race with ‘only’ two laps remaining.

          It feels like an almost philosophical question of how ‘organic’ a race should be and how much human interference is acceptable to ensure that racing is allowed to take place.

          1. @willwood Maybe i’m just looking at things from a more traditional or sporting POV because the mentality to get a race to end under green by using red flags & fast tracking SC procedures is a relatively new concept.

            In the past races that were red flagged with a handful of laps to go tended to not be restarted & on the rare occasion they were (Monaco 2011 comes to mind) it was a rolling restart. And if a SC came out & there wasn’t time to restart using the normal procedures then it was just allowed to end under the SC. Not ideal but sometimes that’s just how things play out with an incident so late on & as I said sometimes that happening is just the fairest thing to do.

            I’m not necessarily against trying to run every lap or aiming to end a race under green. I just don’t like it when it feels like things are done in a way that is putting show above sport, That is pushing drama over fairness or which is taking a race & making the end feel like more of a lottery.

            Maybe if they were still doing rolling restarts I wouldn’t mind it so much as I don’t recall having much of an issue after Monaco 2011. I think maybe it’s just how much more of a lottery & how much more risky standing starts can be (With cars more bunched together through the opening corners) that makes me dislike them been done so late on with so few laps left. And maybe the reasons for them been introduced 2-3 years back (Purely for the show, To create more drama on restarts) probably doesn’t help that feeling.

            1. I think a good compromise would either be to have red flags as frequently as we have them now, but revert to rolling starts on restarts, or keep them as standing restarts but only use them when they are necessary for safety reasons. I prefer the latter, but think the former is more likely.

              The problem with all these red flags is that, in the past, teams had to look at an incident and guess if there was going to be a safety car or a red flag. They generally had to think about the severity of the incident and how long it would take to repair. But now, they also have to think about how much the race director wants there to be action at that particular moment, and I think that brings too much luck into the equation. In the last two years, there have been a huge amount of red flags compared to normal, and many of them haven’t been necessary from a safety perspective. Obviously to suggest that Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain didn’t warrant a red flag would be absolutely ludicrous, and the same with the Mugello restart crash. But from a safety perspective, the Baku one wasn’t necessary and so, from a sporting perspective, should have finished under safety car.

              Thinking back to the last brilliant title battle we had, in 2012, that season finished under the safety car, after Paul di Resta crashed in Brazil and there were no complaints about that. If it had happened in 2022, maybe the red flag would have been called. A one-lap restart may have taken place, with Alonso starting second and needing to pass Button to win, and Vettel in sixth needing to stay out of trouble. Yes, that would have been thrilling, but at that point Vettel had won it fair and square and it would be unnecessary and unfair to throw his championship up in the air when he just had to get round the final couple of laps, because of an incident that would have just been a safety car if it had happened at any other time in the season. And I say this as someone who still to this day wishes Alonso had won that championship.

              I suppose what I am trying to say is that safety cars and red flags are necessary to neutralise the race, for safety reasons, but they always bring a large amount of luck into play, particularly red flags now with the standing starts. So I believe they should only be used when necessary for safety reasons, and not additionally to spice up the show. But I have never minded safety cars in the past, because they were always used consistently and so it was easier for the teams to predict when they were coming. And maybe in five or ten years time, the same will happen, but with the new conditions. But at the moment, it feels too random whether or not a red flag will be called, and that is increasing the amount that luck plays a part.

          2. Even a safety car at the end of the race can have the effect of resetting the race. I don’t know how you could get around this problem if you need to interfere with a race to clear a car or debris or to repair track damage.

      2. @ryanoceros @stefmeister – Massi is not a noob at this, he used the safety car in the V8s to back up and encourage ‘exiting’ racing time and time again. This time he went a step or two further by actually removing the cars between the first and second place holders only. He also did it with the full knowledge as all of us who were watching at the time did, that Hamilton on forty lap(?) old hard’s was a siting duck against Verstappen on fresh soft’s in a one lap sprint.
        Maybe just maybe he fell fowl of the pressure being applied by Horner “we just need one lap” and he didn’t take into account the massive tyre advantage Verstappen had. If that’s the case he should still go for being unreliable and malleable.

        1. @johnrkh

          This time he went a step or two further by actually removing the cars between the first and second place holders only.

          Yes, but you are using the argument that it was unfair to the cars in 3rd place and down as an argument against the Verstappen win. To me, this shows that you are just engaging in motivated reasoning.

          Ultimately, Masi made it so that the race between the top 2 happened the same as if the race was a little longer and they could have followed the normal safety car procedure or if they had done something that is legal, but irregular, which is slowing the safety car down to a crawl. Then Max would also have been just behind Lewis on way newer tires. This was a consequence of the different team strategies. Masi deciding that Mercedes picked the wrong tire strategy for his liking and giving them a chance to change the tires by throwing an unnecessary red flag would be way, way, way more manipulative than what he did.

          You keep arguing that Masi should have taken more note of the competitiveness of the participants in the situation and should have engineered a situation that benefited Lewis, but that is no more fair than if Latifi hadn’t crashed and Masi would have called a completely unnecessary red flag late in the race to get a fight between Max and Lewis.

    21. From this very same site just a few weeks ago when TW spoke.

      “How can it be that 14 months ago at the Eifel Grand Prix the explanation that was given was exactly the contrary to what has happened on Sunday?” he said.

      “The explanation that was given that the reason why the Safety Car was out there so long is that all cars need to un-lap themselves with the explanation that this is following the sporting regulations. Not only the decision has been taken in a totally opposite way but an explanation is being made 180-degree different to what happened 14 months ago.”

      Let’s stop pretending Red Bull won anything, shall we? It’s embarrassing at this point.

      1. Let’s stop pretending Red Bull won anything, shall we? It’s embarrassing at this point.

        Let’s stop pretending that they didn’t, shall we? The championship is complete and the champions officially crowned.

        It’s embarrassing that people refuse to accept it. You don’t have to like it….

        1. and you dont have to accept it. good thing about opinions, your are entitled to have your own. its like f.e. spa, which was no race for many, no matter what is officially decided. in my opinion this was a manipulated and manifactured result and we dont have a legit champ. if max really drives with number 1 on his car next year, then this will only remind one of the farce of this gifted title.

          1. I do have to accept that Verstappen is 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion, simply because he really is – regardless of how I feel about it.
            The FIA owns F1, they run it and they declare the winner – and that’s exactly what they did, just like every other year. It’s really real.

            I wasn’t arguing whether anyone’s opinion is legitimate (because it is) – only that the results of the championship are genuine, regardless of that opinion.
            You can feel that the championship was manipulated and falsified if you want to, but that doesn’t change anything outside of your own head. It certainly doesn’t change anything for F1.

            I won’t go over why the championship was not ‘gifted’ or ‘stolen’ again because that’s been done to death and you clearly don’t care for facts or the basic idea of car racing.
            But, I will remind you that Hamilton did have every opportunity to win it – he and his team just didn’t.

            1. -1
              FIA can declare their paper champion, who didnt earn his title but got it gifted by Masi. I dont care for them and their ceremony.

            2. Romtrain – FIA declared the F1 champion, as they are the only ones with the right and responsibility to do so.
              No offence, but it doesn’t matter whether you think they got it right or if it was justified, or not.
              Your opinion is only that, and will never change who is actually the F1 champion for 2021.
              If you don’t care for or respect the FIA’s authority to administer the F1 series the way they see fit, then you obviously don’t care for F1.
              In which case, they have every right to ignore your opinion just the same as you are doing to theirs.

              Seriously, this is like talking to a naughty kid in kindergarten.
              The rules are made and carried out by the adults – not the children.

            3. S Masi behaved like a child when overturning the race result. Be happy with your paper champ, crowned by Masi. FIA lost its reputation of sportive fairness for me, and I keep my opinion. And the rules were not carried out btw.

            4. A “child” with the authority to make the decisions… No results were overturned.
              The rules were carried out the way the FIA decided to carry them out, because the FIA make the rules and apply them. Nobody is above the FIA in this.

              Complain all you like RomTrain, it’s not going to change anything.
              The champion on paper is still the official (and only) F1 champion.

    22. Helmut aka “the mutt” is barking again. Time to take the ol’ dog out back…….

    23. If the role of the players was reversed and Lewis had been gifted the race instead of Max, Marko would be one of those complaining longest and loudest. Remember his response to the Copse incident?

      1. Do you want to him to start arguing against his own team and instead argue for the competitor?
        What kind of messed up world would that be?

        If the roles were reversed, of course Helmut and Horner would be wild, while Hamilton and Toto would be as smug and unbearable as ever.
        It’s a no-win situation.

      2. True. Of course, most on here would instead be saying Hamilton was a deserved champion, that people should stop complaining about it and that Masi was his right to make the decision. Because it affected Lewis, it’s the biggest injustice in the history of the World….

        1. Of course, most on here would instead be saying Hamilton was a deserved champion, that people should stop complaining about it and that Masi was his right to make the decision.

          You don’t know that – just an assumption on your part because of your bias or dislike of the victim in this case. You would be surprised to discover more people than you think prefer fairness and sporting integrity over blind bias.

          1. You would be surprised to discover more people than you think prefer fairness and sporting integrity over blind bias.

            possible, but not on this site.

            1. Man, the irony of your comment :D

    24. Only fans that dislike Hamilton could agree with this drivel trotted out by the helmut

    25. Doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t make it true Marko

      Max is still the Illegitimate champion

      1. Doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t make it true @the-edge

        Max is still the champion

        1. Max is not the legitimate champion.

          1. Ro train on repeat. Try a mirror too. Maybe someone there believes you :)

            1. same as u

    26. So? BSing the very very worst BS in F1 history.
      Makes the BULL in their name beyond apt!

    27. I would have liked to have seen Horner’s face when Bottas would have just parked his car on the race track at the penultimate lap, thereby denying Masi and Horner the farcical last lap race.

      All jokes aside. The strategists now have to take a random Masi factor into account when planning their race strategies. He has the authority to override the rules at any moment of the race. Mercedes have learned this the hard way.

      1. That I suggest is where Hamilton is at right now. Why put in all the effort if it does come down to a Masi random call regardless of when it happens?

      2. Until the brakes caught fire the restart was a very real option. The moment to pit was already gone by that time. So a very bad decision by merc strategy and toto inmediatly knew it. Hence his behaviour.

        1. It was the absolute right decision if the rules were followed, because 1) More time to let all lapped cars through including the guy who could have tried to overtake Verstappen. 2) One more lap of the SC as per the rules.

          It must be exhausting trying to pretend it’s all legit. Pity.

          1. You are trying to negotiate with the forum F1 no-it-all and it will come to naught!

            1. Different opinions are problematic I see. Lots of hamfans grieving here. It will pass.
              @johhny, you obviously did not understand the way it works.

    28. He miss another chance to shut up

    29. As a very long standing fan of F1 but a neutral observer in terms of this year’s Championship the most worrying aspect of this whole debacle is the precident that Abu Dhabi may have set. While you could argue that the circumstances of those last five laps and the ultimate consequences may never occur again this “perfect storm” has without question exposed a flaw in the governance of F1. It’s perhaps lucky for the FIA that the Constructors Championship was not affected because if there had been financial aspects to this controversy it would have been an even bigger headache for the FIA. The first question the FIA should ask is whether they are presiding over a sport or a reality TV show. Any sport has to be governed by rules that all participants understand, the arguements over the Safety Car procedure is an example of the mess you get into if these rules are not clear and/or applied by officials. If the FIA intended for the Race Director to have discretion over the restarting of a race after a Safety Car there would have been no need to include any mention of lapped cars etc in the Regulations, a simple statement to the effect that a race will be restarted at the discretion of the Race Director would have been sufficient. That way teams would know that in terms of strategy they have to make their own judgement about what is likely to happen and act accordingly. Of course the flaw in that situation is that the Race Director is wide open to accusations of bias if the timing of the restart appears to favour one team over another which is why rules need to be objectively applied and not manipulated to create a manufactured outcome, however well meant. Once the partisan dust has settled the FIA do need to learn lessons from this episode and come up with a set of protocols to manage a race to satisfy both sporting and commercial requirements. A Safety Car will always negate any advantage a driver has established so perhaps a Red Flag would be a better solution to clear an incident so close to the end of a race and set up a sprint finish. You could almost question whether a Safety Car still has a place other than in wet starts. VSC can be used for those times where an incident can be quickly dealt with, anything more serious could be Red Flagged.
      I’m all for “let them race” but you can’t have an unregulated free for all and still call it sport.

      1. @nannyp – A well written post and describes the situation exactly!

        As much as I do think Lewis was robbed by the decisions made by Mr Masi on the removal of the safety car and only some of the lapped cars, I cannot say that Max was at fault – he only took advantage of the situation handed to him!

        So FIA / Liberty – let us all see your investigation transparently and what action you are going to take to prevent “The Show” take precedent over the Sport/Rules! And for me that should include preventing ALL teams “lobbying” the race director, It’s one thing for an incident to be reported for the stewards to be asked to look into, and a totally different thing for them to present arguments as to why or why not something should /not be done or that should mitigate the outcome!

    30. I am noticing change on racefans from only relevant articles to controversy and frustration inducting articles. Maybe time to look elsewhere for my F1 digest.
      This “article” is utterly pointless for anything but clicks.

    31. Person who does extremely well out of controversial decision supports controversial decision. Next up, Pope issues statement declaring Catholicism a good thing.

    32. Michael E Ingraham
      31st December 2021, 14:42

      I would love to visit the alternate universe Marko interviews had roles been reversed. Never mind. I know exactly what he would have said. In fact, he would have left the “cheating” comments floating out there too. Max could only have lost against a cheating MB.

    33. Gotta love Helmut for a soundbite

    34. The good doctor doth protest too much, methinks.

    35. Failed F1 driver !

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