Masi's sacking "harsh", says Horner


Christian Horner believes that Michael Masi's sacking as race director was harsh, the Red Bull boss stating that outside pressure to remove the Australian was "not right".

The sacking of Michael Masi as race director is effectively the FIA's way of saying that the Australian is guilty of making a mistake in terms of the final moments of last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Whether we will ever get to know the evidence that helped the sport's governing body reach that conclusion remains to be seen, as is the Australian's motive.

As with any football match there are two camps, two rival set of supporters who see things in terms of their team, and in this case the teams are Red Bull and Mercedes.

While Mercedes lost out, certainly in terms of an eighth title for Lewis Hamilton, who up to Nicholas Latifi's crash had effectively sewn up the race, Red Bull scored a shock victory and with it Max Verstappen secured the crown.

Most believe that Masi came to make his fateful decision - which went against the established regulations - in the face of lobbying from Horner and his team's sporting director, Jonathan Wheatley.

However, while ignoring the fact that Mercedes had been ding its own fair share of lobbying that evening, ever since the flag finally fell the German team and its supporters have been effectively calling for Masi's removal.

"It's a difficult one," Horner tells Talksport. "It's the FIA's business...

"I think it is harsh," he continues, when asked about Masi's sacking, "I think he was in a very difficult position last year.

"When you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resource, compared to what the teams have, it's such a massive difference," he adds.

"It's good to hear they are bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and one of the most experienced guys in Herbie Blash," he says of FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem's plans to shake up the sport's refereeing including the appointment of two race directors, Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich. "I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael and that's not right. That's my personal feeling."

With some claiming that Verstappen's title will be forever tainted by the circumstances in which it came about, Horner said: "It was an intense period. You have to look at the season over the 22 races. We had a lot of decisions go against us earlier in the year and penalties that weren't awarded and so on.

"We got a little bit lucky at the end and sometimes that happens in sport, it's not over until the whistle goes or the flag falls.

"Tactically, we were sharp at the end. When Latifi's crash came five laps from the end we reacted immediately. We got Max in, pitted him for a new set of tyres, while Mercedes left Lewis out on what were 44-lap old tyres at the end of their life.

"Max had to make that pass on the last lap, which he did. There has been some hiding around the controversy. The bottom line was that tactically we got it right. Max delivered the move and became the world champion."

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Published: 22/02/2022
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