Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has accused former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi of being disrespectful to drivers, not accepting criticism and being responsible for the sport.
Mercedes blame Masi for costing Lewis Hamilton the championship at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after he incorrectly implemented the safety car restart procedure at the end of the race.
Masi’s decisions set up a one-lap sprint that saw Max Verstappen dramatically pass Lewis Hamilton for his maiden title victory.
Masi was removed from his role as race director in the aftermath and the role has been completely overhauled by motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, for this season.
An FIA report on the Abu Dhabi race criticized Masi’s decision-making, although he insisted the Australian had acted in good faith throughout.
Wolff compared how good he thinks Hamilton is at accepting constructive criticism to how Masi seemed to ignore him, even when he came from a good place, and recalled a meeting he had with the former race director ahead of controversial Abu Dhabi event.
“It’s quite interesting because I had lunch with him on the Wednesday before the race, and I said to him ‘I really want to tell you, without condescending to you, that you have to take the criticism into account and develop from there. .’ lewis [Hamilton] does it every day, but you’re a guy who always seems to know better,'” Wolff told the Press Association news agency.
“It wasn’t about influencing him, but really about giving my honest opinion that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong.
“You hear from the pilots and how the pilot briefings were conducted [by Masi] and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful the way he treated some of them.
“He was just immune to comment and even today he didn’t properly reflect that he had done anything wrong.
“He was a liability for the sport because everyone was talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and the race director shouldn’t be someone people talk about, but someone who does the job and ensures that the race is conducted in accordance with the regulations.
F1 has two race directors this year, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who alternate duties.
One of the conclusions of the FIA’s investigation into the Abu Dhabi GP was that Masi had too much to deal with, so the two new race directors are assisted by long-serving deputy Herbie Blash. of Masi’s popular predecessor, Charlie Whiting, who died suddenly on the eve of the 2019 season.