Red Bull chief Christian Horner blasts decision to sack Michael Masi as F1 race director

Christian Horner has labelled the FIA’s decision to sack under-fire Formula 1 race director Michael Masi as “harsh”.

The Australian was removed from the post officially last week over unrelenting fury following his decisions at the 2021 title-deciding race.

His questionable decisions in the final few laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix led to Max Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton to win the title.

Mercedes felt Masi had broken the rules surrounding the deployment of the safety car while doing so, while Hamilton expressed over team radio his belief that the situation was “manipulated”.

If the FIA believed that the anger would dissipate over the winter they were wrong, as more than two months on many fans remain furious that Hamilton was denied the title in such circumstances.

Christian Horner believes sacking Michael Masi was a 'harsh' move by the FIA
Christian Horner believes sacking Michael Masi was a ‘harsh’ move by the FIA

Under pressure to act, the sport’s governing body announced last week that Masi would no longer be race director and would be offered another role.

Red Bull chief Horner, whose driver benefited from Masi’s decisions, understands that the FIA was under intense scrutiny, but feels Masi is unfortunate to be out of the job.

“It’s a difficult one. It’s the FIA’s business. I think it’s harsh,” he told TalkSPORT.

“I think that he was in a very difficult position last year. We felt a lot of decisions went against us last year.”

Horner expressed the belief that Masi’s job was made much harder by the fact he had to make decisions while not having access to the same data that teams have in real-time on race days.

With that in mind, he praised the FIA for introducing technological upgrades to the process to go alongside the replacement of Masi as race director.

“When you look at what he has in terms of resource, compared to what the teams have, it’s such a massive, massive difference,” the Red Bull boss added.

“I think it’s good to hear they are bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and they are bringing back one of the most experienced guys, Herbie Blash.

Michael Masi was removed as F1's race director last week
Michael Masi was removed as F1’s race director last week

“I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael and that’s not right. That was my personal feeling.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton spoke last week about the events that night in Abu Dhabi for the first time since.

During Mercedes’ 2022 car launch event, he admitted that there was a period over the winter in which he “lost a little bit of faith” in F1.

But he added: “I am a determined person and I like to think that while moments like this might define other people’s careers, I refuse to let this define mine, so I have focused on being the best I can be and coming back stronger.

“If you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait until you see this year.”

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