Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was leading en route to an all-time record eighth F1 championship with the race set to finish behind a Safety Car, until Masi’s call to allow lapped cars to unlap themselves.

This decision allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake Hamilton and claim his first F1 title in a season-finale where the tremors are still being felt.

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Red Bull team principal Horner was asked on the Beyond The Grid podcast if he has spoken to Masi, who has lost his job, since. He replied: “Yes, on a couple of occasions.

“I felt that it wasn’t fair, the way he had been treated, because I think that he’d done the best that he could, following the principles.

“The only thing he screwed up on was not allowing the final two cars at the back of the field to unlap themselves.

“As we saw recently in Monza, nobody wants to see a race diluted and finished under a Safety Car.

“So he did everything to get that race going again, which would have been a horrendous finish to the season, to see it just diluted and peter out under a Safety Car.

“I think the reaction after the race, there was a huge amount of abuse sent to him, there were death threats to his family. No individual deserves to go through that."

"Michael Masi did the very best he could"

“I think that Michael, in difficult circumstances, did the very best he could throughout the year," Horner said.

“We have to remember he had very little support in that race control tower and was left very much on his own up there.

“When you follow the process of how they’re looking at how cars run, it’s back to pens and pieces of paper.

“He didn’t have all the backup that the teams have, for example, with our operations rooms, and the software.

“It was still a very rudimentary process.”

Masi lost his job with the FIA in the aftermath.

This season at the Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen won as the race ended behind a Safety Car - the correct interpretation of the rule.

Verstappen leads the 2022 standings and can win his second consecutive championship this weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix.