The first-ever visit to Jeddah conjured up a hugely controversial and dramatic grand prix as title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashed several times before the Mercedes driver claimed a crucial victory to set up a championship showdown in Abu Dhabi

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that F1 had missed the experience of Masi’s late predecessor Charlie Whiting during the Saudi Arabian GP following a number of contentious and unusual decisions. 

In a bizarre discussion, Masi offered Red Bull the chance to forfeit position and drop Verstappen from pole to behind Hamilton on the grid at a restart after he had overtaken Hamilton off-track earlier.  

Horner described the negotiation as being like “being down the souk” and “unusual”. The Red Bull boss was also aggrieved at the two time penalties Verstappen received for incidents involving Hamilton. 

However, Brawn stood up for Masi in his usual post-race column on the official F1 website. 

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“I’d like to compliment the FIA and Race Director Michael Masi in handling well what was an extremely difficult race. I know some people feel some of the decisions were controversial but I don’t,” he wrote. 

“The situation you had with Max and Lewis at the restart, when Michael recommended that Max drop behind Esteban [Ocon] and Lewis, was handled well as the alternative was to report him to the stewards and that could have ended up with a time penalty.

“I think Michael dealt with it pragmatically. This type of discussion goes on several times during a race. If a driver gets by someone or defends unfairly, the Race Director will tell the team to correct the position.

“Some people seem to think Michael was doing a deal. He wasn’t doing a deal. It was simple: you accept the decision of the Race Director, with a known outcome, or it gets passed to the stewards to handle it.

“It was a tricky race and a tricky weekend. We’ve had a lot of challenges here, and I think everyone – the FIA, F1 and the teams – has pulled together to make this event work and it’s been a huge success.”