Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has accused FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi of costing Lewis Hamilton the world championship through his controversial handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.Max Verstappen with an opportunity to attack Hamilton for the lead of the race.
Wolff made it clear he blames the race director for Hamilton losing the title to Verstappen, and stated he is “not interested in having a conversation with Michael Masi”.
“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have robbed Lewis Hamilton of a deserved world championship,” said Wolff. “His driving, particularly in the last four races, was faultless.
“He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get-go. He won the start and he never gave the lead away again. And robbing him in the last lap of the race is unacceptable.
“That’s why from a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint, my values, my sense of integrity, just isn’t compatible to the decisions that have been made on Sunday. And it is up to the FIA to decide going forward how these decisions, these situations can be avoided.”
The FIA said yesterday it will begin a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” in response to the controversy. Wolff said Masi’s handling of the restart clearly contradicted how previous races had been run and was the latest in a series of unnecessary rows.
“If you look at most of the controversies that have happened this year it was about sporting decisions on the track, the inconsistency of the execution of the regulations on track,” he said.
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“It’s one thing to drive hard and to have difference of opinion among the drivers and the teams. It is in the nature of the game. But inconsistent decision-making leads to controversies, leads to polarisation and that was the ground for many of the totally unnecessary controversies on the track.”
Masi’s decision to allow the drivers in front of Verstappen to un-lap themselves, but not those behind him, contradicted how he handled a race at the Nurburgring last year, said Wolff.
“How can it be that 14 months ago at the Eifel Grand Prix the explanation that was given was exactly the contrary to what has happened on Sunday?” he said.
“The explanation that was given that the reason why the Safety Car was out there so long is that all cars need to un-lap themselves with the explanation that this is following the sporting regulations. Not only the decision has been taken in a totally opposite way but an explanation is being made 180-degree different to what happened 14 months ago.”
“If you decide to deploy the Safety Car there’s clear regulations in place,” Wolff added. “The regulations are that all cars need to un-lap themselves before the race can be restarted. And only in the following lap, once all cars have un-lapped themselves, the Safety Car may come in.
“None of that happened. None of that happened. Randomly, cars were allowed to overtake and to un-lap themselves.
“Why was Carlos Sainz not given the opportunity to win the race? Why were the cars left in between there. Why was the Safety Car pulled in against what the regulations say? So the ad-hoc decision-making just caused this mayhem.”
Wolff insisted the team’s objections to the handling of the race took nothing away from Verstappen and Red Bull’s triumph.
“I would have been totally okay with Max and Red Bull winning the championship on Sunday,” he said. “And this situation has nothing to do with Max. He is a worthy champion, his driving is exceptional and Red Bull are a fierce competitor and I have the greatest respect for the people working there.
“So this has nothing to do with them. I would have loved to sit here and avoided all these discussions and the damage that has been done to the sport by just unsporting and unfair decision-making on Sunday.
“So the FIA needs to decide how they are going forward. We had a good dialogue with the FIA over the last days. The commission that its set in place I have trust and faith that we will formulate together with all competitors the drivers and the other teams the right decisions and actions to avoid such a scenario in the future.”
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