Sebastian Vettel has come to the defence of race director, Michael Masi as he claims that F1 is rapidly becoming an entertainment show as opposed to sport.
It's the age-old conundrum, is it sport or is it entertainment, and four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel fears that the increasing move towards the former is what has led to the Abu Dhabi debacle and the subsequent trial by social media of race director, Michael Masi.
"For Michael, it has been a pity," said the German at the unveiling of his team's 2022 contender.
"There are two interests clashing," he continued. "One is the sport and the other is the show.
"I don't care so much about the show," he admitted, "because I look at is a sport and from a competitive point of view.
"Obviously, it is not the easiest to be in the shoes of the referee, or Michael's shoes," he added, "but he has done a great job, particularly after filling in for Charlie Whiting who died so suddenly.
"Michael has been very focused and determined to do a good job. I don't know what is in store for his future but I hope he sticks around because overall he has done a very good job.
"There was a lot of controversy surrounding the last race but that shouldn't be, because if you look at the bigger picture he has done really well.
"The main thing moving forward is that there is clarity in these situations so no further questions are asked."
"It's great racing and everyone wants to see the two drivers in the championship go head-to-head with one lap to go," added teammate, Lance Stroll, "but you can't be making up rules at the end of the race like that. It has to be set in stone.
"If the consequence is that there is not time, and we don't get a whole lap of racing, well that's how it is," he added. "This was maybe a little bit too much. It's important those things are set in stone.
"Abu Dhabi was just not right," he insisted. "When there's a safety car, lapped cars get to overtake the safety car and then we go racing. There is nothing that says half the cars can overtake and half stay behind and then we go racing. Those things can't be modified just to put on a show. "The rules are the rules and you can't be changing the rules for entertainment. It has to be sport first."
Vettel also admitted surprise at the decision to drop the pre-race ceremony at which drivers gave their public support to various causes.
"The issues we're tackling are not going to be gone in just two years," said the German. "I hope that, as drivers, we find a way to get together and express topics that are important to us. Some probably don't care but some do. Probably, it was getting a bit too strong and too individual for the business side of it."
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