Stefan Johansson: “The decisions Masi made make no sense on any level”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson says race director Michael Masi’s decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “completely ignored any level of common sense”.

Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson, who has driven for Ferrari, McLaren, Tyrell and other teams, talked about the finale of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Max Verstappen take the race win and the world title, under controversial circumstances.

“First, I guess it’s positive for F1 that everyone is chiming in, that there’s so much passion for either side, Lewis or Max,” Johansson wrote on his blog.

“Whether it’s intentional or not, the entertainment value of this controversy has gone through the roof.

“But I think there has to be a balance somewhere because the decisions [race director Michael] Masi made make no sense on any level.

“His decision completely ignored any level of common sense as to what would have been a fair way to handle the situation.

“The only way it should have been done was by doing what you’d normally do and indeed what he did in the race prior.

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“As soon as they deployed the safety car with five laps to go they should have red flagged the race. That’s the only way to keep it level and keep the excitement until the end.

“You would have had everyone come into the pits while they clear the track, put new tires on and go from there like they did at the Saudi Grand Prix when Red Bull rebuilt half their car and put new tires on.

“Had that been done you could have had a fair five-lap shootout for the championship. Making the decisions he did and then changing his mind completely at the very last moment absolutely handed the race on a plate to Max and Red Bull after Lewis had done a flawless race.

“He did everything he had to do to secure the championship, including making a perfect start.”

Johansson then questioned Michael Masi’s credentials to be FIA’s race director.

“I appreciate that race control is under a huge amount of pressure and the decisions must be made within a very short time frame.

“But the job of being race director is not for the faint of heart and it obviously takes a pretty special character, with a deep understanding of the dynamics of racing both from a driver’s perspective and from a team perspective.

“I don’t know much about the background of Masi, but it’s clear to me that he lacks a fundamental understanding of the basic dynamics of wheel-to-wheel racing and what is acceptable as far as racing lines go.

“Some of the moves in the past four races were disturbing and it’s hard to watch this happening in F1, which is meant to be the pinnacle of Motor Sports.

“Charlie [Whiting, ex FIA race director] had been around the block a few times and knew every trick in the book.

“There’s just no way he would have allowed things to escalate to the point where we are now where every race seems to end up in controversy of some kind,” the Swede concluded.

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