Toto Wolff has opened up on Michael Masi becoming center topic in F1 rather than sport, as he adds on Neil Wittich’s jewellery move.
A month after the FIA more or less noted that Masi did make a mistake in applying the rules in 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, the Mercedes’ chief Wolff has expanded a bit more on the Australian’s role as the Race Director during the course of the year.
It is no secret that the relation between Wolff and Masi further deteriorated by the happenings in Abu Dhabi, but speaking to PA News agency (as relayed by Sky Sports F1), the Austrian expands on some background points regarding the former FIA man.
Wolff reckons Masi shut the criticism door and allowed none of it to reach to him, even if they were honest feedback on some of the wrong steps. In fact, the Austrian had lunch with the Australian prior to Abu Dhabi GP as well where he gave such vibes.
“It is quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race, and I said to him that ‘I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you are a guy who always seems to know better’,” said Wolff.
“It wasn’t about influencing him but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong. You hear from the drivers and how the drivers’ briefings were conducted [by Masi] and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful how he treated some of them.
“He was just immune to any feedback and even today he has not properly reflected that he did something wrong. He was a liability for the sport because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and the race director should not be somebody that people talk about, but someone who does the job and makes sure the race is run according to the regulations,” summed up Wolff.
The point raised by Wolff could be debatable as many of the F1 drivers did say good things about Masi and that the Australian did take the drivers’ side in multiple matters. When he was ousted, there were certain support messages from the drivers’ camp as well.
Of course, not everybody sided but that is a normal situation to have. Masi was replaced by the duo of Wittich and Eduardo Freitas but the latter is yet to officiate in any of the F1 races. The former, though, came under scanner during the Australian GP weekend.
The drivers’ briefing went long on Friday especially after the Race Directors’ note mentioned on the removal of jewellery on safety grounds. There are certain drivers who have piercing on their bodies which makes it difficult to remove.
Wolff feels this is not the topic that needs much debate. It is not the battle to have at all. “Is that a battle he needs to have?,” he questioned. “How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn’t put a single foot wrong.
“But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over,” summed up Wolff.
Here’s Lewis Hamilton on radio call
Here’s FIA report