Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has declared ex-Formula 1 race director Michael Masi, the man behind the infamous safety car call at the climax of the 2021 season, was a “liability” for the sport who “has not properly reflected that he did something wrong”.

Masi carried the hefty responsibility of deciding to bring the safety car in before the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while allowing some but not all lapped cars through, enabling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the race and world title.

Wolff’s frustrations with Masi at the time are well-known as they were heard on the global broadcast and the mistakes made regarding the rules helped push the Australian out the door.

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For the 2022 season, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas are sharing the race director role, already making headlines after a strange revival of regulations surrounding the wearing of body piercings, metal chains and jewellery during competition – almost entirely impacting Hamilton.

Speaking with the Press Association during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, Wolff hit out at Masi’s character, claiming he did not take constructive criticism.

“It is quite interesting because I had lunch with him (Masi) on the Wednesday before the race (in Abu Dhabi), and I said to him that ‘I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there,” Wolff said.

“‘Lewis does it every day, but you are the guy who always seems to know better’.

“It wasn’t about influencing him but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong.”

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The Mercedes boss also claimed drivers and race promoters were unhappy with Masi.

“You hear from the drivers and how the drivers’ briefings were conducted (by Masi) and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful how he treated some of them,” he said.

“There is a promoter of one of the races in the Middle East who said he was so relieved he had gone because he got so much abuse from him.

“He was just immune to any feedback and even today he has not properly reflected that he did something wrong.

“He was a liability for the sport because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and the race director should not be somebody that people talk about, but someone who does the job and makes sure the race is run according to the regulations.”

Wolff was generally positive about the two new race directors but questioned Wittich’s jewellery call.

“How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn’t put a single foot wrong,” said Wolff.

“But is that (jewellery ban) a battle he needs to have at this stage?

“However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over.”



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