F1 fan favourite Martin Brundle claims Michael Masi’s position is ‘untenable’ after ‘really uncomfortable’ audio from last season’s controversial season finale came to light.
The FIA are now investigating after race director Masi was heard acting on Red Bull’s suggestions at Abu Dhabi, allowing Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap and win his first-ever title.
As Verstappen’s hopes slipped away while stuck behind lapped cars and a safety vehicle, Red Bull chief Jonathan Wheatley said to Masi on the radio: “Obviously those lapped cars, you don’t need to let them go right away round and catch up with the back of the pack.”
Masi replied ‘understood’ before Wheatley continued: “You need to let them go and then we got a motor race on our hands.”
Masi again said: “Understood, just give me a second.”
Wheatley is then heard speaking directly to Verstappen, saying: “We think all the cars ahead of you are going to pass Hamilton, everybody behind you will stay in position.”
Fans of Mercedes ace Hamilton have now reacted angrily to the exchange, and Sky Sports’ Brundle believes Masi will struggle to stay in his job as a result.
Brundle said: "Let's not assume it's giving Masi information he didn't already know in terms of what he could and couldn't do in terms of the lapped pack.
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"Of course it's really uncomfortable, and a lot of people are unhappy: Hamilton fans, Mercedes fans.
"Hugely unacceptable. I met so many fans that were new to Formula 1 last year particularly, and fans in general, that were hugely upset by what happened.
"We cannot – and we know it's going to change – have teams getting at the referee while he's trying to make critical decisions with cars on the track and marshals and breakdown vehicles.
"I made a comment that changing Masi won't fix the problem, meaning that it's way too big a job for one person.
"That doesn't mean to say I'm in full support for Masi. I think he'll struggle to keep that position.
"The trouble is that the spotlight will be on him, and every single decision will be analysed.
"What happens if Lewis is up for a penalty? Will he be lenient on that? I think he's in an untenable situation.
"You can't unravel the result. Red Bull did nothing wrong, and Ferrari did nothing wrong in third place for example. You can't penalise them.
"The FIA can only penalise themselves for getting it wrong on the day. Masi got it wrong, due to a lot of circumstances."
The new season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.
In the meantime, teams have started to launch their 2022 cars with Verstappen's Red Bull among them.
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