Confusion after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? So have we. Perhaps no one expected such a finish for the 2021 season. Formula 1 has managed to draw the world’s attention to motorsport. Although, the “sporting” component itself is being called into question, from the race at Yas Marina to the FIA regulations and the work of Michael Masi. Thus, Max Verstappen’s victory became the most high-profile event of 2021. That sparked a series of heated controversies that will drag on. What is the origin of the conflict between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi? Why does the FIA call the shots? Let us analyze key opinions to have a clear idea of what is going on and let us draw conclusions.
- The starting point between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
- What are Mercedes protesting about?
- The FIA’s first action
- Toto Wolff goes public with his views, cooler and more formal
- Lewis Hamilton as a key figure between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
- Mohammed Ben Sulayem brings order between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
- Has the pressure on Michael Masi eased or just changed direction?
- Michael Masi and Toto Wolff are a headache for the FIA.
- F1 Abu Dhabi GP investigation.
- Mohammed Ben Sulayem made the last point of the conflict between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
- Instead of an epilogue, or where do find the same steel nerves as Max Verstappen has?
The starting point between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
Lewis Hamilton led for most of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall on the 51st of 58 laps. A safety car appeared on the track due to the garbage on the track. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez changed tires on the fresh soft. The leader Lewis Hamilton remained on his Hard tyres to save the lead. On lap 56, Michael Masi claimed a restart.
He informed the lapped drivers between Hamilton and Verstappen that they could overtake the leader and the safety car to return with them on one lap. The case involved drivers between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Meanwhile the other lapped drivers, didn’t get the same instructions despite the FIA regulations. Max Verstappen used fresh tyres to overtake Hamilton. He won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and became the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion.
What did Michael Masi say to Toto Wolff?
“No, no Michael – that was so not right,” fired back mr. Wolff. Masi’s condescending response did little to ease the tension or spotlight on him.
“It’s called a motor race,”- noted Masi.
Should the race be ended by a safety car? As it was before the restart, Lewis Hamilton would be the winner and for the eighth time F1 champion. Could the race be decided like that? That’s the point. According to FIA regulations, Michael Masi was supposed to instruct all lapped cars to pass leaders. The safety car had to complete one lap and finish the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That’s the hot topic and also the most difficult conversation about Michael Masi and Toto Wolff.
What are Mercedes protesting about?
Despite the first protest, it was not about Red Bull or Max Verstappen as champion. In general, the protests of Mercedes are directed against the race results of Abu Dhabi GP. The first protest was directed against Verstappen for an alleged violation of the FIA Sporting Regulation. The second concerned Article 48.12 of the FIA rulebook which states that “any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car”. Both Mercedes’ protest rejected, despite successful predictions by the lawyers.
Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton, by mutual consent at Mercedes, decided not to file the next appeal. The entire team turned to profound silence.
Deep silence is the main action of the Mercedes’ protests.
The last time anyone from Mercedes gave an interview to the mass media was Lewis Hamilton. He was talking to David Coulthard before the award ceremony in Abu Dhabi. That was the last Mercedes conversation with the media. Next there were no words or comments or social media posts… the team and the drivers kept quiet. Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Toto Wolff came to the post-race press conference. Nor did the team post on Instagram after the victory in the constructors’ championship.
Almost all the Formula 1 teams stayed for the following tests at Yas Marina before the Formula 1 season 2022. This was the first George Russell debut as the current almost official Mercedes driver. Russell had already replaced Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi in 2020, he was still a Williams driver. The team made no comment or congratulations to George. No official press releases, no posts.
Traditional FIA awards ceremony.
Before the FIA prize giving ceremony, the winners always present the winning cars and do the team photo sessions. In Paris, there were Toyota WEC, WRC cars, but the seats for Mercedes Formula E and Formula 1 were empty. No team photo session either. There was a kind of rush among the race fans. People commented on the FIA posts on Instagram with “Massi out” messages. The other side of the fans commented as “salty” about the Mercedes team.
Mercedes did not directly refuse to attend the FIA awards ceremony, citing a state of frustration with the results. Thus, James Ellison, the technical director of Mercedes F1 Team, went to the grand ceremony instead of Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton. Yes – yes, it was that James we heard on the team radio with Valtteri Bottas.
Emotional commentary from Susie Wolff changes the situation.
Susie Wolff, CEO of Venturi Racing in Formula E, did not attend the FIA awards ceremony. She brought even more significance to a difficult situation. Her emotional Twitter post became a blow that led to even more public attention.
Susie Wolff inadvertently pointed out the main culprit in the conflict. So clarity came. It is no longer Mercedes F1 team versus FIA, but Toto Wolff against “one person”. They are demanding Michael Masi’s punishment or suspension, rather both at the same time.
The FIA’s first action
The situation was heating up like a time bomb and nobody knew when it would thunder. Ahead of the awards ceremony, it was clear that Mercedes would fight for the interest until the very end. Toto Wolff and Michael Masi’s negotiations during the last laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left F1 fans around the world open mouths. Confidence in the sport as a whole has suffered, if not increased. To justify F1’s reputation as a sport, the FIA has explained everything point by point.
The FIA’s first official statement on the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen showed remarkable performance and sportsmanship after the season ended.
The safety of all involved and the integrity of the sport are the primary responsibilities of the FIA.
What has happened will be discussed with all teams and drivers and clarified for the participants, media and fans about the current regulations in order to preserve the competitive character.
All conclusions will be drawn before the start of the 2022 season.
The Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has provoked a multitude of reactions from all over the world.
Following the report on the sequence of events following the incident on lap 53 of the Grand Prix, the FIA President proposed a detailed analysis.
The FIA will set this in motion within the Formula 1 Commission to give the Sporting Advisory Committee, with the support of Formula 1 drivers, a clear mandate for studies and proposals.
Details of what happened on the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The circumstances surrounding the use of the Safety Car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and the related communications between the FIA Race Direction team and the Formula 1 teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the Championship and the due celebration of the first Drivers’ World Championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship title won by Mercedes.
Toto Wolff goes public with his views, cooler and more formal
Despite the destabilizing situation, the Mercedes team were still celebrating their own party. Someone from Mercedes fans uploaded a video of the party on Sunday, where Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff looked very happy. After a while, the official Mercedes AMG F1 account rushed in to find the person who had uploaded the video and tried to delete it from all social channels.
When the FIA announced the formation of the Special Commission, Mercedes were informed that the team would not appeal, and Toto Wolff gave an official interview after a while. Tension rose from a completely different direction. It is still completely unclear whether Lewis Hamilton will even compete in Formula 1 in 2022. Messages are flying from all sides. Someone even starts talking about what Hamilton will do next year. Lewis himself no longer posts on social media and remains silent.
Lewis Hamilton as a key figure between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
Mercedes’ driver is more than a F1 world champion. He is a star, a very respectful athlete with his own millions of fans. Formerly active on social media, at public and charity events, Lewis has kept a long silence, bringing the pressure of the mass media to bear on Michael Masi.
It also casts a shadow over the current Formula 1 race direction. As a result, it raises more and more questions about the organization and F1 sporting rules.
Although, 82% of F1 fans believe that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was not rigged against Hamilton, the situation is heating up. Furthermore, most experts around Formula 1 claimed that an end to the fight for the World Championship is not an option for Lewis Hamilton. Former champion Mario Andretti believes Lewis Hamilton would be doing himself a “disservice” if he did not return.
We also suggest that the current situation should give Lewis Hamilton new reasons to be even hungrier for victory. However, it is not as simple as that. Today, it becomes clear: either Michael Masi leaves the post of Formula 1 race director or Lewis Hamilton leaves Formula 1.
Meanwhile, journalists are coming up with the other speculations. One of the loudest is that the Mercedes F1 Team has never considered pulling out of Lewis Hamilton after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021. Lewis is taking the show out of the current situation and having fun preparing for the Formula 1 2022 season.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem brings order between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
The whole motorsport world is staring at the turn of events and the most important question is what the new FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, will do to resolve this noisy conflict. Mohammed Ben Sulayem assumed the new responsibility on 17 December with 62% of the vote in the FIA elections. He inherited from former FIA president Jean Todt the incredible to-do lists of what to do.
If everyone is pretty sure of the intelligent, endlessly respected and charismatic Jean Todt, then F1 fans have misgivings about Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Motorsport extends from west to east across the world, but these areas are very different and require a special ability to cope with them.
Has the pressure on Michael Masi eased or just changed direction?
Anyway, the first question to the new FIA president was about punishing Lewis Hamilton for not attending the FIA ceremony. Toto Wolff has reportedly already written to Mohammed Ben Sulayem to warn him of the current difficult situation, which includes the awarding of the FIA world championship.
Ben Sulayem made it clear that there will be “no forgiveness,” and he has every reason to punish everyone: Michael Masi, Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton all at once. Whatever it was, the tension subsided for a while. Later, Mercedes F1 team principal was more lenient and explained the position step by step.
There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some kind of strategy discussions, was meant well.But I think we overshot.Toto Wolff
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who inherited the power from Jean Todt, is in no hurry to make any decisions, but makes them very careful and tricky. Thus, the official statement of the FIA will appear in the world on 18 March, at the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season. This is the hat-trick. Up to that point, there is no other option than to announce the line-up of Mercedes drivers in the event that Lewis Hamilton leaves Formula One. Lewis has to make any decision before the official statutes.
Michael Masi and Toto Wolff are a headache for the FIA.
The legitimate question – could Michael Masi do it differently? Today it becomes the – Will Michael Masi retain his title?
It is difficult to blame Masi’s work throughout the 2021 Formula 1 season. He has done it the best he can. Today, after the last interview at Yas Marina, Michael Masi is keeping quiet. Following the Mercedes’ protest and the message from Toto Wolff, F1 fans are demanding the dismissal of the race director. As part of the detailed analysis of what happened in the final laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a special F1 committee is also delving deeper into the work of Michael Masi. And there are many questions for the race director at the other Grand Prix as well.
You might wonder, but many authorities persons in motor racing, are supporting Michael Masi. The McLaren F1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl stands ready to support Masi personally. Gerhard Berger, ex-Mercedes Director Norbert Haug, Formula 1 expert and ex-driver Martin Brundle and even Alexander Wurz are ready to support current F1 race director.
He takes a pragmatic approach and tries to find solutions, but I don’t think he does anything that isn’t allowed,”Gerhard Berger
“[He] handled the situation well, even if it meant bad luck for one side.
F1 Abu Dhabi GP investigation.
Despite the special F1 commission investigating the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021, it would not be easy to reach a final decision quickly. Initial steps to clarify the situation were unsuccessful. On January 29, the FIA announced that “no decision has been taken yet”. The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled for February 14 in London. Although, it is unlikely that we will clarify the situation.
It looks like everything will be sorted when the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix already starts.
Frankly, the public beating of Michael Masi is what no one expected. Maybe the attempts of the Mercedes F1 team are really worth it, but nevertheless there could be another way… maybe to make all the accusations behind closed doors.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem made the last point of the conflict between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi.
The end of the story seems to have come as quickly as we had not expected. In particular, the Scuderia Ferrari team had not expected such a step from the new FIA President. Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced the most important changes in F1 2022 on the same day with the official presentation of the F1-75 car. Thus, one day before Mercedes presented the new car W13, it came officially that Michael Masi resigned as F1 race director. Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas from WEC and DTM races will take the place. Herbie Blash joined the updated team as a Permanent Senior Advisor.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner left the private meeting in exactly the opposite mood. It is easy to sense their feelings. The resonance of the situation is already impacting the Formula 1 Paddock Club. While the enormous battle against Masi has appeared on social media, other drivers are quite unhappy about the decision. People have got used to Masi in the last two years.
Instead of an epilogue, or where do find the same steel nerves as Max Verstappen has?
Against the background of story about Toto Wolff and Michael Masi, we would like to highlight the impeccable composure of Max Vesrtappen. However, after the race at the Yas Marina circuit, the Red Bull driver became a Formula 1 champion three times due to protests from Mercedes. Nevertheless, Verstappen did not make any negative comments about Lewis or Mercedes to the press. On the contrary, he expresses his respect for Hamilton through the media. Max does not hide the fact that Toto Wolff has politely congratulated him. This position not only graces the Red Bull driver, but proves once again how deserving Max Verstappen has become a Formula 1 champion.
Well, everything fits. Lewis Hamilton gets up again and claims that he never thought about quitting racing, but just took a step back. Today, the entire Mercedes F1 team is ready to fight for the Formula 1 constructors’ championship. Bet you’re tired a bit of the story, and we’re already supporting you because it still leaves a controversial aftertaste.