Max Verstappen believes Michael Masi was ‘thrown under the bus’ by the FIA in the wake of the controversial conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the Dutchman feeling the now former Race Director was very capable of continuing with his job into 2022.
Masi has been replaced during the off-season by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, who come across from the FIA World Endurance Championship and DTM Series respectively, and Verstappen is saddened that he was ousted in the first place.
“I think it’s not correct,” Verstappen said to Motorsport.com. “Everyone always tries to do the best job, everyone can always use help.
“Like us drivers also – we have the whole team behind us, we prove it ourselves. For me, it’s very unfair what happened to Michael – he was really being thrown under the bus.
“Now, [that they] did sack him like that in the first place for me is unacceptable. And now basically [that they] sacked him is really incredible. I feel really sorry for Michael.
“Because I think he was a very capable and good race director. I have nothing against the new race directors – because I think they are also very capable and very good race directors.
But, personally, and for Michael, I felt really sad and I sent him a text as well.”
Freitas and Wittich will have support when they take up their role, which they will share between them across the twenty-three-race season, and Verstappen believes Masi could have stayed on in the Race Director role with the same support and grown more into the role that he took over just ahead of the 2019 season following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting.
“After Charlie [Whiting] died it’s very hard to take over from someone like him,” said Verstappen. “He had so much experience from the previous years, and also Charlie had help around him.
“And maybe Michael just needed a little bit more. Everyone needs experience. [When] I came into this sport, my first year, if I look back at it now, I’m a complete rookie. I’m so much better than what I was back then and I think it would’ve been the same for Michael.
“So, to immediately sack him, for me, is not the right decision. But I wish him all the best with whatever comes next and I hope that it is better than being F1 race director.”