Wolff says Masi had become ‘responsible’ for F1

Masi lost his job over the winter following his handling of the safety car restart during the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

Mistakes made by race control in only allowing a certain number of stragglers to run, along with the decision to opt for an immediate restart, opened the door for Max Verstappen to snatch victory and the world title to Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.

Wolff made no secret of his displeasure with the events of that day and said he had no intention of speaking to Masi again after what happened.

In an interview with the press association at the Australian Grand Prix, Wolff revealed his feelings about Masi’s character and how he tried to share his views with her over lunch in preparation for the Abu Dhabi final.

“It’s quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] 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 accept the criticism and evolve from there.

“Lewis does it every day, but you’re the guy who always seems to know more,” Wolff explained.

“It wasn’t about influencing him, but really about giving my honest opinion that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Wolff said that in addition to drivers worried about how Masi was treating them, other sport stakeholders were unimpressed.

“You hear from the pilots and how the pilot briefings were conducted [by Masi] and some guys said it was almost disrespectful the way he treated some of them,” Wolff added.

“There’s a promoter from one of the races in the Middle East who said he was so relieved to be gone because he was treated so badly by him.

“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.

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Contrary to his criticisms of Masi, Wolff praised the job new race director Niels Wittich has done so far this season.

However, he questioned his recent crackdown on drivers wearing jewelry.

“The way he ran the first few races was respectful, solid and he didn’t take a single step wrong,” Wolff said.

“But is it [jewellery ban] a battle he must have at this point? However, if that turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep by a race director, I would take it a thousand times over.”

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