–by Mark Cipolloni–
Former FIA race director Michael Masi has returned to the F1 paddock for the first time since the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
That was the day the Mercedes team left Lewis Hamilton on the track with old hard tires that cost Lewis Hamilton the race and the title. They blamed Masi for their lack of good race strategy, and Max Verstappen taught them a lesson.
Masi let the lapped cars unlap themselves between then race leader Hamilton and Verstappen and gave the fans an exciting one lap race to the finish. It was perhaps the most exciting lap in F1 history. Fans loved.
“It’s motor racing, we came to race,” Masi told a pissed Toto Wolff. Wolff wanted the race to finish under the caution, that would have deprived the fans a race for the win and the title.
Wolff must like watching parades. Race fans do not.
When asked if Lewis Hamilton will speak to him Hamilton replied: “I don’t. I am just focussed on my future. I am focussed on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say.”
Masi had assumed the position of race director following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting in 2019.
Although Masi initially remained part of the FIA, the Australian opted to return home and later revealed he had received threats on his life due to his role in the Abu Dhabi race.
In August last year, Masi made his return to motorsport as he was appointed the new chair of the Supercars Commission.
As well as being a literal homecoming, it was also one in a work sense with Masi having served as the deputy race directory for the category before joining F1 in 2018.
With Supercars continuing to feature on the support bill for the Australian Grand Prix, Masi has returned to his old stomping ground for the weekend.