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Masi sheds light on 'swap' deal

NEWS STORY
07/12/2021

Michael Masi has given insight into one mysterious aspect of Sunday's intriguing Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ahead of the second restart, following the indent when Max Verstappen went off track in Turn 2 in his bid to pass Lewis Hamilton, fans were given access to the radio conversations between race director, Michael Masi and the sporting directors at Red Bull and Mercedes.

As the moments to the restart ticked down, Masi was heard effectively bargaining with the teams, keen to resolve the situation before handing it over to the stewards.

While Mercedes was agreeable to Verstappen starting third on the grid, behind Ocon and Hamilton, Red Bull asked for time to consider its response before finally accepting the deal, no doubt aware that the stewards would make no such compromise.

While giving a fascinating insight to the behind the scenes activity, many felt the bargaining was wrong and wholly out of place. However, Masi has defended the move.

"I wouldn't call it a deal as, from a race director's perspective, I have no authority to actually instruct the teams to do anything," explained the Australian.

"In that situation, I can give them an offer, the ability to do that, but the choice is theirs," he added. "The stewards are obviously empowered to impose penalties, but I can give them my perspective. That's why I offered them the ability to give that position up."

Had the race not been red flagged for a second time, following the Sergio Perez and Nikita Mazepin incidents, the decision on handing position back would have come sooner.

"It was as a result of the red flag that came about with the incident at Turn 3," he said. "The priority in any red flag situation is to make sure the drivers are safe, then to activate the recovery, and the marshals can do so, clean the track and so forth.

"So it probably seemed a bit elongated compared to normal, however, it's very much normal discussion that takes place.

"When I saw it 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," he said of Verstappen's move on Hamilton. "The red flag obviously was issued 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. That's very much a normal discussion that happens regularly on a number of occasions and has had all year and previously."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Stitch431, 08/12/2021 10:32

"It was like in Spa where he first asked Toto if he would agree to him canceling the race (before asking anyone else). Verstappen and Red Bull did want to race and it would have been in their favor to race as Lewis would most probably have lost more than 12,5 points then. Masi asking Toto what he should do is just not the way it should be. Obviously with all he has done previously to help Hamilton he now tried to publicly help Red Bull to pay off open debt. However, with Silverstone still being the most outrageous example, this little issue was a lame one for "making up for past mistakes". Therefore should the Silverstone scenario happen the other way around in the final race, Max cannot be punished more severely than Lewis back then. Otherwise, it would be too obvious that he (the FIA) is biased ..."

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2. Posted by kenji, 08/12/2021 2:29

"For all the people who are dissing on Masi and claiming that Whiting would've done things differently with a better [ ? ] outcome then they should offer up exactly what evidence do they have regards what he, Whiting, would've done differently? Without this it is all just froth and bubble and pure speculation."

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3. Posted by Italian Job, 07/12/2021 21:17

"Message to Charlie Whiting:
Charlie, please, please, please allow Masi to have the benefit of just some of your experience and wisdom.
Thank you."

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4. Posted by Roli, 07/12/2021 15:33

"Whatever he says, he is in charge and therefore MAKES THE DECISIONS, not barter with the team. Hope Masi isnt at the post next year, he has made this year a complete mess"

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5. Posted by Hobgoblin, 07/12/2021 14:16

"Lewis was leading into the corner.
Max ran wide, passed, and re-joined in front of Lewis.
Lewis slowed to avoid Max, thus giving Ocon the opportunity to pass.

So it was Max's fault that Lewis lost the place to Ocon, and why he had to start behind Lewis.

Had Lewis spun and dropped to fifth, then the call would (should) have been different.

I think the right decision was made, but not the way it was made."

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 07/12/2021 14:10

"Grid should have been as original start as no race lap was completed."

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7. Posted by jcr, 07/12/2021 13:32

"Without taking sides,
What I found strange was that Max gained one place, But had to relinquish two ???
It was,nt max.s fault Ocon got past,
What would have happened if Sir Lewis had spun and dropped to fifth ???
By this logic Max would have to drop back to sixth place.
Ocon has never been mentioned. Its as if this is a two car world, (Surprised, not really)"

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