Forbes’ Senior Contributor Maury Brown says “at best” Michael Masi’s decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were “inconsistent” and “at worst, it places an asterisk on the 2021 season”.
The drama stemming from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is still going strong. In the final laps of the race FIA race director Michael Masi broke the rules and protocols of the Safety Car, which allowed Max Verstappen to take an easy win on the final lap, and also win the world championship.
“With the 2022 Formula One season set to start on March 20, questions still swirl around whether Lewis Hamilton will return to race for Mercedes and a chance for a record eighth driver’s championship,” Brown wrote.
“How the FIA handles its investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finish will play greatly into his return.
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“It’s not every day that arguably the best driver on the planet is still contemplating racing in 2022, but Lewis Hamilton continues to hold his intentions close to the vest.
“Hamilton and Mercedes are still steaming about how F1 race director Michael Masi handled the end of the final race of the season, and with it, the outcome of the championship.”
Brown goes on to propose that there’s only one solution to the problem.
“The report on the race decision can’t possibly recommend that Hamilton be issued the win. And we’re clearly not rerunning the race.
“How can the FIA and F1 retain any sense of credibility after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and give enough incentive for Hamilton to return?
“There appears to be only one answer: Masi has to be fired.
“At best the decisions he made were grossly inconsistent. At worst, it places an asterisk on the 2021 season, something unfair to both Hamilton and Verstappen. That would seem grounds for sacking Masi.
“Some might say that it’s deserving. Some may say that firing Masi makes him nothing more than a scapegoat. The reality is there’s little choice.”
Many have said that the ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was forced to artificially create drama, and now Brown says even the FIA’s timeline of their investigation seems to be catering to the ‘Netflix crowd’.
“All of this butts up against the clock. The FIA’s inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is not scheduled to be released until March 18 – just two days before the start of the season.
“It all sets up drama as to whether Hamilton commits before, or whether a decision such as firing Masi occurs.
“Netflix has grown interest in F1 – most notably in the U.S. – with the Drive To Survive series. It’s as if F1 is creating undue drama for the series before the season starts with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix debacle,” concluded Brown.