Masi confused by drivers' confusion


Michael Masi dismisses drivers' claims of confusion over what is allowed in ‘side-by-side' racing and what isn't, insisting that each case is judged on merit.

In the wake of the decision not to investigate the incident on Lap 48 of the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the subsequent denial of Mercedes request to have a right of review, many drivers expressed their unease.

At the drivers' briefing in Qatar on Friday, much of the meeting was devoted to the Interlagos incident, as drivers argued that failure to act on it set a worrying precedent, whilst others pointed out that similar incidents that had resulted in penalties.

Indeed, following the briefing the general consensus appeared to be, 'if he (Verstappen) can do it and get away with it so can I'.

Asked what counts as hard and fair racing, and what, on the other hand, deserves to be penalised, Lewis Hamilton appeared to sum up the mood of his colleagues.

"It's not clear," he said, "every driver, except for Max, was asking just for clarity, most drivers were asking for clarity, but it wasn't very clear.

"So, it's still not clear what the limits of the track are," he added. "It's clearly not the white line anymore, when overtaking but... yeah, we just go for it.

"We just ask for consistency," he added. "So, if it's the same as the last race then it should be the same for all of us in those scenarios and it's fine."

However, Michael Masi disagrees.

"I think it's been made clear to them what is expected," said the Australian. "The other part is, some of them may agree, some of them disagree, and that's always, with each and every one of them, they have agreed and disagreed all the way through.

"So we've given them some overall guidance," he continued, "but also been very clear on the fact that each and every case will be judged on its merits."

In the wake of the Sao Paulo incident, while revealing that the original decision not to act had been taken without all the relevant onboard footage, Masi admitted that the stewards are doing their best to adopt a 'let them race' attitude after being accused of over zealousness in the past.

"You judge the incident on its merits, and you have a look at all of it," he said. "Let's not forget, we have the overall 'let them race' principles, and looking at it all, with all of the angles that we had available, it was that philosophy was adopted.

"They're give or take about side-on-side, so I think that for the benefit of everyone, it was the 'let them race' and we let them race."

Asked if this meant the stewards are taking a more "more relaxed" approach to such decisions, he said: "I wouldn't call it more relaxed, it's looking at each and every incident on its merits, as we have done with each and every one.

"We've got a panel of independent stewards," he continued, "contrary to what many people think, I'm not the one sitting there as judge and jury.

"We have a look, we have a panel of stewards that review each and every incident, and then as we saw last weekend, they determine if it's worthy of an investigation.

"If they do, it gets investigated and then determine if there's a breach or no breach."

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Published: 23/11/2021
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