Removing F1 race director Masi was harsh, claims Horner
Christian Horner ended up on the right side of Michael Masi's controversial call, and he believes that the decision to remove the official was "harsh".
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner disagrees with the decision to remove controversial Formula One race director Michael Masi. Masi was offered a new role elsewhere in the FIA after being replaced by two men in Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas for the 2022 season.
The Australian official was at the forefront of the controversy surrounding Max Verstappen's title triumph last year. Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton in the final lap of the final race, but he was only able to stage that late recovery after Masi let the cars between the pair – running first and second but separated by a series of lapped rivals – pass a safety car and allow one lap of racing. Verstappen, on fresher tyres, prevailed, prompting a protest from Hamilton and Mercedes that failed – although Masi has now been removed from his role.
"It's going to be interesting to see how that works," Horner told BBC Breakfast on Monday. "For me, you want consistency. Having one race director, for me, was preferential, rather than splitting that role. We have a new president [Mohammed Ben Sulayem] who has come in and inherited this situation, and he's looked to impose change. It's great that Herbie Blash, a very experienced race control member, is coming back into the fray as well, so we will see how it pans out. But I thought it was harsh on Michael Masi that he was replaced after a lot of pressure being put on him. Everything is back to zero, new season, new regulations."
Wittich and Freitas will have to deal with a similarly tense, tight title race, though, according to Horner. "It has been so intense," said Horner. "I think you might get a couple of other drivers come into that fray as well. It was epic last year, and if that continues I think there's going to be some fantastic races in the season ahead. It's great for the sport. The sport has never had so much coverage and so much following. The following in the sport has gone exponential over the last season, and that's great to see."
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