Ex-Mercedes chief defends Michael Masi: “There was no right or wrong answer”

Ex-Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe has defended former F1 race director Michael Masi for his ill-handling of the 2021 title decider between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Ex-Mercedes chief defends Michael Masi: “There was no right or wrong answer”

Abu Dhabi 2021 was one of F1’s most controversial title showdowns after a late Safety Car allowed Verstappen to overtake Hamilton on the final lap.

The Dutchman was given a free run at Hamilton because Masi failed to follow the FIA’s regulations with cars unlapping themselves.

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The widespread fallout ultimately cost Masi his job as race director, while there still continues to be uproar about the events of Abu Dhabi one year later.

In an interview with Planet F1, Lowe - who worked with Hamilton at McLaren and Mercedes - admitted he was “quite happy” Verstappen won the title in 2021.

“Good to see Max secure a championship without any argument,” Lowe said. “I was quite happy that he won it last year, actually – which is probably controversial, but F1 is a sport of jeopardy. It always has been.

“Nothing’s fair in F1. I’ve been on the wrong side of fairness many, many times and then [on] the right side of good luck as well.

“That’s the nature, that’s the interest, that’s the excitement of the sport, actually. It’s not a sport where everything should go to plan and always the best person by some analysis should win. That’s why we watch and love the sport and there’s never a right answer anyway to anything.

“I did feel sorry for the race director [Masi] actually, I think he got the wrong end of that really unfairly to me. There was no right or wrong answer there. He did his job, he was the ref.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B battle for the lead at the start of
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull…

Lowe also reflected on the new 2022 regulations and the impact they’ve had on the sport.

“I enjoyed seeing the resurgence of Ferrari, they developed a great car,” he added. “I think it’s a real shame that wasn’t translated in the end into better results. So that was a sort of a good thing and a bad thing, I think. Great to see them with a good car, but not so great that it didn’t score all the wins it could have done.

“Great to see some change in the world order around the leading three teams. You know, I think noteworthy, completely not to my surprise, that the same three teams are at the top despite the cost cap, because of their embedded excellence in engineering and the tools for engineering great cars, which don’t go away with a cost cap.

“So I think it’s been good to see some disturbance but in another way, it’s still a shame there’s so much spread down the grid.

“I love jeopardy in racing, so I like to see different things happening and people struggling through but succeeding. It’s been a lot of variety in the season, I know Max won a lot of races but there has, despite that, been a lot of variety. So I think that’s good.

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