Ecclestone says race director Michael Masi was 'overwhelmed' in 2021

Bernie Ecclestone says race director Michael Masi was ‘OVERWHELMED’ by 2021 season and ‘maybe shouldn’t have had the job’… but he reiterates the right decisions were made in F1 decider which saw Max Verstappen pip Lewis Hamilton to the title

  • Michael Masi has faced much scrutiny since the controversial F1 title decider
  • Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the last lap to win the championship
  • Masi allowed cars between the pair to unlap themselves behind the safety car
  • Ex-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Masi was ‘overwhelmed’ in 2021 

Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that race director Michael Masi was ‘overwhelmed’ throughout the 2021 F1 season – though is adamant the right decisions were made in the controversial title decider in Abu Dhabi.

Masi has faced much scrutiny since the season finale which saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton on the last lap to be crowned champion for the first time.

The race director was criticised after only allowing cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves, before racing got back underway with the Dutchman on much fresher tyres.

Bernie Ecclestone has claimed Michael Masi was ‘overwhelmed’ during the 2021 F1 season

There have also been other incidents this year, including several collisions between the two title protagonists. 

Ex-Formula One chief Ecclestone has told German publication BILD: ‘He was in many cases overwhelmed with his job the whole season and maybe shouldn’t have had it at all. But it was the right decision to let them race.’

The controversy at Abu Dhabi was sparked when Nicholas Latifi in the Williams crashed which brought out the safety car.

Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the last lap after a controversial safety car call

Red Bull smartly made the call to bring Verstappen in for fresh tyres – something race-leader Hamilton was not able to do as he risked giving the lead away to the Dutchman with uncertainty whether racing would be able to resume.

Masi initially made the call to not allow drivers to unlap themselves, before making a U-turn later on the penultimate lap – with five drivers between Hamilton and Verstappen allowed to pass the Brit.

Racing then got back underway with Verstappen making a daring lunge down the inside of Hamilton to take the race lead on the last lap, and ultimately the championship.

Ecclestone believes Masi made the right call at Abu Dhabi to let the pair race 

Mercedes lodged protests after the race but they were dismissed with the team then withdrawing a further appeal.

Despite the controversial ending, Ecclestone felt Mercedes weren’t hard done by.

Speaking to Sky he referenced a first lap incident in which Hamilton went off the circuit following an overtaking attempt by Verstappen and kept the lead.  

He said: ‘About being robbed, it’s complete and utter nonsense. If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race he [Hamilton] went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.

Hamilton has still not broken his silence since losing the championship in Abu Dhabi

‘Lewis wasn’t punished at all for that so he shouldn’t be complaining too much. These things happen all the time in sports. We shouldn’t blame the race director, he did exactly what was the right thing to do.’ 

The seven-time world champion has still not broken his silence since the events at Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen’s title defence will begin on March 20 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.  

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