The topic of last year’s season finale in Abu Dhabi is still on the tongues of many in the paddock. Just a few days after Max Verstappen’s comment regarding removing Michael Masi from the position of race director, the team principal of his team also decided to comment.
As a reminder, Michael Masi was moved to another position within FIA and will be replaced by 2 directors that will share the duty throughout the season, as a step taken after the investigation of the decisions made during the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP that was ultimately won by Max Verstappen. Regarding the controversy, Verstappen has said that FIA threw Masi “under the bus”.
In his own words during the F1 press conference: "For me it is very unfair what happened to Michael because he's really been thrown under the bus, and of course people talk a lot about what was decided in Abu Dhabi but can you imagine a referee in whatever sport has the coach or equivalent screaming in his ear all the time 'yellow card, red card, no decision, no foul', it's impossible to make a decision.”
During the pre-season testing in Barcelona, Christian Horner revealed that Masi faced death threats after the season ended. He had a chance to see him in London at the F1 Commission’s meeting. As he said: "The lack of support that was shown to Michael was disappointing, especially at a time when mental health is so prevalent. To hear that his family and he received death threats is not right.
"An awful lot of pressure was put on the FIA to deal with him. And I made it clear in last week's meeting in London that there should have been more support for him. I was disappointed that nobody shared that opinion.
"I have had an exchange with Michael to wish him well. But the whole experience was very, very tough for him.”
Horner was additionally asked if Verstappen’s title has been overshadowed by the events of the finale. About that, he responded: "In the UK media a lot has been made of it because Lewis is obviously a British driver, but I really don't think so.
"Max was the outstanding driver last year. He had bad luck and things didn't always go his way, too. It is too easy to get hung up on one event, and so much has been written about the safety car in Abu Dhabi.
"But, again, tactically as a team we made the right choices. Mercedes left Lewis out on a 44-lap old set of tyres and he was always going to be exposed at a restart.
"There was no gift for Max either. Lewis didn't expect him to overtake where he did. When Max threw it down the inside into the hairpin, you could see it caught Lewis completely unawares. He left the door open."