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A convenient 'truth'?

NEWS STORY
10/02/2022

'New' footage from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has gone viral, and even the FIA is "aware".

Even though the car 'unveiled' yesterday was essentially a mock-up, some of Red Bull's thunder was taken away by new footage that had appeared overnight on social media.

The footage covers the final moments of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and appears to reveal lobbying from Red Bull that was not known about until now.

As the field continues behind the safety car following Nicholas Latifi's crash, with Max Verstappen on fresh rubber but separated from race leader Lewis Hamilton by a number of cars the Briton had lapped, the new footage has Red Bull, sporting director, Jonathan Wheatley tell Michael Masi: "Those lapped cars; you don't need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack. You only need to let them go, and then we've got a motor race on our hands."

"Understood," replies the Australian.

The rest is history.

At race end, a distraught Toto Wolff tells Masi that his decision was "not right", to which the race director responds: "Toto, it's called a motor race, OK?"

From the moment it appeared on social media there was understandable uproar, and among the first to voice their outrage was former footballer, turned crisp salesman, turned TV pundit, Gary Lineker who tweeted "smelly" in reaction to the footage.

To be clear the footage is not new, it is understood to form part of the footage released by FOM on 16 December, however Wheatley's comments appear to have been totally overlooked until now.

The footage was released to social media by software engineer '@F1_Jordan', who has 23.2k followers on Twitter, among them Hamilton and Mercedes.

As the investigation into the events of Abu Dhabi continues, the FIA yesterday revealed that it is "aware" of the 'new' coverage.

On the face of it, the footage appears to show Masi capitulating to Red Bull's sporting director, and the fact that the Australian used Wheatley's "motor race" comment to justify his actions to Wolff, in the eyes of social media users has only compounded the Australian's 'guilt'.

If nothing else, the footage is clear proof that the lobbying of officials must cease.

All else aside, one has to ask why now? Why has it taken almost two months for such incendiary footage to be revealed?

Why is it released on the day of the Red Bull launch, and just days after Lewis Hamilton finally emerged from his self-imposed exile.

And why, as surely anyone who has uploaded official F1 footage to social media will attest, has FOM not exercised its strict copyright control.

Indeed, adding to the feeling that this is just a little too convenient, is the fact that the footage even has an ominous, pulsating, rock soundtrack.

Why, it's almost as though it was put together by a professional movie company...

One final question.

If the footage is accurate and is clear proof that Masi was 'following orders', what happens next? Forget what happens to the Australian, what happens in terms of the 2021 title?

Now that's a conundrum that would surely make great TV.

Cue ominous, pulsating rock soundtrack.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 11/02/2022 16:18

"This whole sorry business has seriously undermined the credibility of F1 as a Sport but has enhanced its "value" & undoubtedly ensured lots of extra loot will flow into the coffers of those with a financial interest....

The "it's a motor race" comment is a phrase which Masi clearly parroted\borrowed from Wheatley is hugely ironic! Up to the last Safety Car restart that's precisely what was happening, after it, not so much.

This issue has rumbled on for far too long. I am one of the millions of Formula 1 Fans & enthusiasts who were horrified by what Masi did, but I stick with my view that it's time to put it behind us. That stable door was left undone months ago & the horse which bolted turned to glue shortly thereafter.

FIA assures us that they've listened & will improve matters for 2022. I'll cast off my customary cloak of cynicism. Let's all enjoy the 2022 Season which should at the very least be technically interesting given the changes to the cars. "

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Stitch431, 11/02/2022 15:56

"This "new" footage was online on YouTube already the day after the race. Why this is brought as "news" now is a bit unclear to me ... By the way, I am sure, that if we go back to the curve one incident, we will find the same kind of conversation between Toto and Masi. Not to mention the rest of the season ... It has been Toto who started with this in the first place and developed it to the level it was at the end of the season.
Therefore they should not fire Masi, but simply stop allowing the teams to communicate with the race direction during the race unless summoned for explanation. "

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3. Posted by kenji, 11/02/2022 11:16

"@Elsiebc...thanks for your response. Looking back AFP/Fox Sports published on 14/12/'21 video with overlaid comms from Masi to Wolff..'Toto, it's called a motor race. We went motor racing'. Now it seems as though a previous exchange between Wheatley and Masi, used similar descriptive terminology. To assume a distinct linkage to Masi's comments with those later made to Wolff, is, IMO a very long bow! To reignite this drama based on this exchange is somewhat suspect...as the Ed has suggested. Motive is not too hard to establish.Any way this will run for quite some time I guess.

@ Ed. No I'm not trying to be obtuse...just trying to see the wood for the trees....like a few others.
"

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4. Posted by Editor, 11/02/2022 8:25

"@ elsiebc

"Repackage and call it fresh"?

Fact is, while the usual suspects - we're talking tabloids such as the Mail and Express, and those sites with a reputation for clickbait - jumped on this immediately, the serious sites held back. As did Pitpass.

Indeed, on first seeing the clip I exchanged emails with Max Noble:

You'll have to take my word that we have not amended the 'conversation'.

Me: "Seen this?"

Max: "Without confirmation I’d question why it took this long to find (read doctor…) I’d guess it never happened, but I’m not even going to research that. Just know fabricating digital “evidence” is very easy. Of course it *might* prove to be true… .. or not… Recommend further research."

Me: "My first thought, why now? My second, why the music. This is very much Netflix territory."

My last comment was sent on Wednesday at 11:40.

It was on Thursday at 10:35 - around 23 hours later - that I posted my piece.

It was not a report on the video but rather a voicing of my suspicions, which still stand.

The only "repackaging" I can see here, of a quote nobody had admitted to hearing before, and has reproduced in its original context, is the video presentation which is extremely professional.

Again, I wonder why F1 hasn't had the video removed. Indeed, if it was 100% genuine I would have expected the official website to be running it complete with "Must Watch" tag, though curiously it has avoided all mention of the video... indeed, it very carefully avoids any mention of what happened in Abu Dhabi altogether."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by elsiebc, 11/02/2022 1:36

"I'm with kenji, R1Racing71, and Mad Matt, this sounds awfully familiar to me. Maybe it didn't go out on the live broadcast but it did go out or was reported somewhere. It's not unusual for "news" outfits to re-release something when they think it will generate additional interest (revenue). Repackage it, call it fresh, and get more mileage out of it when the opportunity is ripe. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Egalitarian, 10/02/2022 21:52

"For me, our editor hit the nail on the head with that one single line in the article. In-race lobbying must cease (as supported by @definat and @R1Racing71).
And Chris, I sense your frustration when one attempts to puts words into another's mouth in a public forum. Sadly, I suspect you won't be the last one to be asked to endure such behaviour."

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7. Posted by Lapps, 10/02/2022 17:49

"And suddenly we are all required to forget that Toto and Co are already on record harassing MM on the same topic and in the same timeframe. Sauce Goose and Gander come to mind!"

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8. Posted by Mad Matt, 10/02/2022 17:08

"@R1Racing71 F1TV for me... just checked and it wasn't there either.... neither on the main coverage nor the pit-lane coverage. I've clearly got an over-active imagination :-)"

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9. Posted by @R1Racing71, 10/02/2022 17:04

"@Defiant Read the editors "Don't blame Masi piece"
And I think everyone is with you on the Lobbying issue. Including Jenson Button who called it only moments after the chequered flag live on Sky."

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10. Posted by Beans, 10/02/2022 17:00

"Well .... it was a motor race was it not ? "

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11. Posted by Defiant, 10/02/2022 16:54

"I'm on the forum many times saying something fishy happened on the last lap and that Masi should be given the boot but the main thing to come from this debacle is that lobbying during the race should be banned, the title part is going to be as divisive to fans as masks, religion, flat or round and even sniffy and orangeman have been around the world. This might be the twist Liberty and Netflix will love to make world media headlines all conveniently the day before the new season.
hmmmmmm"

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12. Posted by @R1Racing71, 10/02/2022 16:31

"Correction - Jonathan Wheatley"

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13. Posted by @R1Racing71, 10/02/2022 16:30

"@MadMatt.
I have just watched the last 5 laps as live from Sky. The Jonathan Noble comment did not go out live.
For those who have nothing better to do, and if you are able - it's well worth another watch in the cold light of day."

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14. Posted by Malemoi, 10/02/2022 16:23

"Lewis was robbed. I will never consider Max the world champion :("

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15. Posted by Roli, 10/02/2022 14:36

"Who gives a "rats a**e" as to what was said, released or heard. It done and dusted. Masi was the culprit. If he was "swayed" then all the more reason to give him a "sideways" move. He should never again be in a position of race director. From grass roots to F1 everyone knows the rules regarding the safety car and backmarkers. He should have known the rule, he just chose to make his own and spice up the race. Lets see what is decided regarding race director, and definitely, there should be no contact from teams to the race director unless he requests to speak to them."

Rating: Positive (5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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