Christian Horner finally admits Michael Masi made a “mistake” in Abu Dhabi

© Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says former race director Michael Masi has made “one mistake” in Abu Dhabi, and adds he’s sorry that Max Verstappen’s “achievements” have been “diluted”.

It is now well known that former race director Michael Masi’s disregard for the rules that govern the Safety Car, at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has allowed Max Verstappen to win the championship.

Even the FIA, in their report on the incident, has admitted that rules were not properly followed. To make it short, Masi firstly did not allow all lapped cars to unlap themselves on the penultimate lap of the race, which was required procedure before the Safety Car can pull in, and the race can be restarted.

To make it even worse, he allowed only those cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves, while the lapped cars behind the leading duo had to remain where they were.

Masi also didn’t allow for one extra lap that the Safety Car was required to complete, after all cars have unlapped themselves, before the race can be restarted. He instead restarted the race immediately on the final lap.

This, of course, allowed Verstappen on fresh tyres to easily overtake Hamilton and win the 2021 title. Had the rules been followed, there was no way for the Safety Car to go in before the chequered flag, which means Hamilton would have won the race and the championship.

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The fact that Masi did not follow the rules was obviously clear to the FIA too, as they removed him from his position, even before their investigation into the incident was completed.

Well, while speaking to the Cambridge Union, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner finally admitted that Masi made a “mistake”, but he only conceded to one of the aforementioned two.

“He made one mistake in that he didn’t allow all lapped cars to unlap themselves,” Horner said.

“I think there was three cars that were kept at the back of the field and unable to [un]lap themselves. That was the only mistake that he made.

“So I thought it was tremendously harsh for him to be hung out to dry, particularly in public, and then the trolling that he got and the abuse that he got online without really support the federation behind him.

“There was a lot of decisions he made last year that we felt went against us, whether it was yellow flags in qualifying in Qatar or the Silverstone incident with Lewis.

“But I did feel sorry for him that there should have been more support after that championship because he was in an incredibly difficult position.”

Horner then went on to state he thought it was unfair that the incident somewhat discredited Verstappen’s “achievements”.

“Obviously a lot has been made out of Abu Dhabi,” the Briton explained.

“It was a shame that actually Max’s achievements during the course of the last year were, if any way, diluted by what happened in Abu Dhabi.

“The reality is, a championship is won over a season, not over a single race. And I think the way that Max drove last year, sometimes is not the best car, but some of the performances that he put in last year, he deserved that championship 100 per cent.

“And I think that these things occasionally happen. There are sometimes close calls in sport,” Horner concluded.

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