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TV pundits at odds over Masi


Sky pundits Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert disagree over Michael Masi's future as race director.

While the British tabloids insist that the matter is done and dusted and that Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton have basically issued an ultimatum, either Michael Masi goes or the seven-time world champion walks away from F1, the reality is that the issue has not yet been resolved. Or so we are told.

Despite curiosities such as Masi's (and Nikolas Tombazis') omission from the FIA's organisational structure chart issued this month, and the fact that Marcin Budkowski has suddenly become available - the Pole having previously been groomed as a potential replacement by Charlie Whiting himself - the sport's governing body insists that its investigation into the events in Abu Dhabi have some way to go.

In a special edition of Sky Sports F1 Show, driver turned commentator, Martin Brundle and driver turned pundit, Johnny Herbert were at odds over the Australian's future.

Asked whether he believes that Hamilton will leave the sport unless Masi is replaced as race director, Brundle was adamant.

"Absolutely not, I don't buy any of it to be honest," he responded.

"I'm sure Toto has been asked by Lewis, 'what are you doing about this?'," he continued, "but Formula 1 is fantastically successful for the Mercedes-Benz brand, while Lewis is 37 years old and we know he's driving at his peak, incredibly determined and competitive. He'll be back."

Referring to the fact that Mercedes and Hamilton, according to media reports, are allegedly putting a gun to the FIA's head, threatening 'it's him (Masi) or us!', Brundle said: "I'm a little bit uncomfortable of a team and a driver starting to determine who is doing what in race control, or any other role in F1.

"That's the tail wagging the dog to a certain extent," he added.

"If I was a Formula 1 boss and my driver came to me and said I don't want to race anymore if that guy is staying around, I would immediately stop thinking about race control and thinking has my driver lost his motivation, which of course he hasn't. Lewis will be back and he'll be pressing the throttle ever harder."

Herbert, on the other hand, insists that Masi's future as race director has become untenable.

"I think he's done too much damage to Formula 1," he said. "The position that he's in, you've got to have trust, and I think that trust has completely and utterly evaporated.

"The problem is who do you replace him with?" he admitted. "Because obviously experience is going to be very important for the man who slots into that position.

"Michael was very fortunate," he continued, "he was underneath Charlie Whiting when Charlie was head of it and he learned a lot of good things from that point of view. Is there anybody that stands out for me at the moment to replace him? No. and that is the conundrum."

"What I absolutely know for sure is that changing Michael Masi will not fix the problem," said Brundle. "This is way too big a job for one person to handle this in a 23-race season, it's only going to grow.

"Back in the day with 16-18 races for Charlie and Herbie (Blash), Charlie used to start the race and Herbie was effectively the race director until Charlie got back from the starting rostrum down near the grid. They had it all under control, but it's just growing exponentially so Masi if he stays needs a lot of support around him and I suspect that's what they're looking at, at the moment.

"And who would actually want to step into his shoes right now?"

Of course, the discussion can hardly be described non-partisan, as this is an all-British line-up of pundits employed by a British broadcaster discussing a matter central to the future of one of the sport's greatest ever drivers, who also happens to be British and driving for a team based in Britain.

1996 world champion, Damon Hill, who has been a constant critic of Max Verstappen this year - but has clearly found the time to rearrange his home office - reflected on his own watershed moment back in 1994 when pondering Hamilton's future and the decision he must make.

"I wanted to win a championship," he said. "Lewis has already won seven, it's a bit different. He might just think I've done all I can do. But I'm sure that eighth title is just too tempting, I'm sure he'll want to come back and have it and put all this to rest."


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1. Posted by kenji, 19/01/2022 1:35

"@ Atlanta fan...Whilst I agree with your opening statement I do think we should look long andf hard at what you have described in your latter point. You speak of determining the difference between 'sport vs entertainment' argument? Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience by giving a thrilling, pleasurable or delightful experience. Those are all attributes of F1 so what I'm saying is simply that the two descriptors are one and the same thing. DTS is putting into the debate a new and unique viewpoint by way of programming. Whether or not the conclusions that can be drawn from DTS are accurate is left to the participants and the audience who can then judge for themselves. My biggest problem was and still is, to an extent, the activities that are forced upon the audience by social issues that bear no relation to F1. Fortunately the 'cheer leaders squad and Hollywood intro hoopla' have been dispensed with!"

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2. Posted by atlanta fan, 18/01/2022 16:13

"Masi should stay! IMO. First, what he did is allowed under 15.3 of the Sporting Code, Second, it would hard to believe the FIA would find themselves in violation of there own rules, Third, the hypocrisy here is clear. IF, the situation was reversed (Lewis behind Max) we can be sure neither Lewis or MB would have a problem here. So, do we need a rule change here, very likely. Are we going to punish Masi after the fact, I say no. We still have not put the "Entertainment vs. Sport" argument to bed and at some point we must for F1 to continue as "the" motorsport events worldwide. If we can all agree that no one wants to watch "follow the leader" for 75 minutes, then we can hoefully address how to fix it. IMO"

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3. Posted by kenji, 18/01/2022 11:20

"@ ancient70!...I like it. Red Bull spotted a possibility and went for it.... for blatant 'opportunism' and it paid off by lifting the silver."

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4. Posted by ancient70!, 18/01/2022 10:39

"My take on this: Masi gets gold star for innovation, plus a medal for bravery. Merc get dunce cap for getting worst case scenario planning wrong. "

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5. Posted by TokyoAussie, 18/01/2022 3:17

"I guess their disagreement echoes the problem F1 faces right now. Who is in a position to replace Masi, if that were to occur? I'm OK with Masi staying if the investigation recommends ways of avoiding the discretion that allowed Masi to bend the rules for a TV shootout. For me, those rules are more important than the name of the person who sits in the chair."

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6. Posted by kenji, 18/01/2022 0:28

"@ Spindoctor...what possible good could come from a Masi dismissal? Are you implying, 'that Masi should probably go', as his continued presence would be embarrassment to the governing authority ? If he does go it will only be read and promoted by 'the UK's infamous gutter press' that the FIA has crumbled under the pressure being asserted by both Wolff and Hamilton [ the race is being manipulated ]. That is quite clear. A total remake of the function of the Race Control team should be implemented along with personnel support and some further simplification of rules that make stewarding decisions clearer. Mercedes won't walk and, IMO. neither will Hamilton as I've repeatedly said."

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 17/01/2022 19:21

"More froth from UK's infamous gutter press. Masi should probably go but if he does it won't be because of Wolf & Hamilton"

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8. Posted by Steve W, 17/01/2022 14:08

"What we have to remember is that it's the FIA's Championship and they can do whatever they want. Take it or leave it. "

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9. Posted by kenji, 17/01/2022 12:34

"@ Hondaunearthed....yes, you are quite correct insofar as 'we'll never know'. However to assume that Red Bull would not have pitted if Hamilton had pitted, i'm just not so sure. My feeling is that they, RB, would've covered off just to equalise the last laps. 'but we'll never know."

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10. Posted by Hondaunearthed, 17/01/2022 11:26

"I would love to have seen what Masi would have done, had indeed Hamilton came into pit for rubber.

Would there have been a restart? Because if he came in, there is no way Max comes in. Unfortunately I’m of the opinion the race would not have restarted. But we will never know…"

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11. Posted by kenji, 17/01/2022 11:17

"@ Max Noble.....My sentiments entirely.Well said.I'm sure that under the same circumstances I'd be telling Wolff/Horner and others to 'get out of my face' to the accompaniment of a few choice four letter words! In all of that I think that Masi did well to function as well as he did. If Masi were to be replaced then I would be totally disgusted. Hopefully that won't happen and he will be retained but this time with a different set of operating procedures that keeps the teams at arms length during races. Those calling for his dismissal are just fringe dwellers and sycophants that struggle with deductive reasoning hahaha."

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12. Posted by kenji, 17/01/2022 11:02

"@Hondaunearthed...Regards your comments. To some people, Yes, I do have an issue with Mercedes et al. One of the things I abhor are people who are arrogant and believe that they are entitled. Normally I'm just an ordinary fan and enjoy my racing but when I see blatant coercion/bullying on track I get rather upset. Liker Monaco when Wolff acknowledged that he told Szafnuaur to tell Ocon to got out of the way of Hamilton. Like Wolff bragging about counselling Russel for racing and crashing with Bottas when Russell was a contracted Williams driver! I make no apologies for that, that's just me and my opinions. A sample of one, and we all know that statistically that means zippedy doo dah. As i have stated I'll wait and see what the FIA say and do. In the meantime just think that it all could have been so different if Mercedes weren't totally outfoxed by Red Bull and that they'd rolled the dice and fitted new rubber on Hamilton's car when they had the chance. "

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13. Posted by Mad Matt, 17/01/2022 9:47

"I know the British press can be quite one sided for a "British hero" but they can just as well turn on them in an instant.

However, in this case I would have been just as galled if Max had been denied the championship due to this farce as I am that it was Lewis. It's the farcical actions of Michael Masi who had not long ago said that all cars have to be allowed to pass that upsets me and tarnishes the sport I enjoy.

I'm also fed up with inconsistent stewarding decisions (not Michael's fault), one such example being the way they allowed Lewis to keep his advantage after going off track on lap 1.

I don't want to see Michael sacked, just an acknowledgement that he got it wrong on this occasion despite, in my opinion, having done a good job for the rest of the season.

I'd then like to see effort put in to making the rules clearer and getting more consistent stewarding decisions. As well as more timely decisions.

I accept that we can't expect perfect decisions all the time and I'd rather the occasional wrong decision if it means we get decisions made more quickly.....

I also don't know why they make patrolling track limits so difficult for themselves, most BTCC tracks have got pressure sensors and it seems fairly easy to manage even with a much larger field.... sorry going off topic... I'll stop now :-)"

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14. Posted by Max Noble, 17/01/2022 9:44

"Great discussion :-) Judges like to highlight to frustrated litigants that “… the court acts on the evidence placed before it today, and applies the rule of law.” Masi had mere seconds to make a decision with thousands of items of information bombarding him, and the race happening in realtime. He could not hit the pause button, phone a friend, or “Take the weekend to think about it.” It was a decision under considerable pressure that simply had to happen in real time… Think defence folk shooting civilian airliners out the sky in a moment of stress, and then having to apologise. Time pressured decisions are the very hardest to make, and no one gets them right all the time…"

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15. Posted by equator180, 17/01/2022 7:34

"It is fairly evident the anti Masi choir are predominately Hamilton fans the majority of which are British. Turn this around and say Max was leading, last lap, safety car, Hamilton changes his tires, Max and team decide to rough it out on the rubber they have, the decision is made to let the cars between the two unlap themselves and let the two race, Hamilton races down the inside passing Max and taking the fairy tale championship. The fans would be saying this is why he has 8 titles, Masi was right to end the race and season in a dash to the finish and not under a safety car parade. All the winers we see here would be the complete opposite as their hero won the day. I honestly this this would be the case. Boils down to PI$$ poor losers!"

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