Michael Masi ignored some set-in-stone rules in Abu Dhabi, with Christian Horner probably influencing him.
Masi was the biggest villain at the Abu Dhabi GP, where his bizarre decision allowed Max Verstappen to steal a victory from Lewis Hamilton right at the death. It was a shocking call, one that will have ramifications for many days to come.
The unprecedented decision from the FIA Race Director was the latest in a series of inconsistencies from him and his team. It also didn’t help that he was under massive pressure to let fans have entertainment and probably boost some TV ratings, because there can be no other explanation as to why he botched the end of an all-time season.
Red Bull Team Principal Horner also may have played a part in the proceedings. Initially, Masi had said that lapped cars between the two cannot unlap themselves. This prompted Horner to speak to Masi.
As quoted by Motor Sport Magazine, Horner said, “Why aren’t we getting these lapped cars out of the way?”
Masi replied saying that the immediate priority was clearing the crashed car, to which Horner hinted, “We only need one racing lap.”
And that was exactly what happened.
The sequence of events was a complete disaster, and a shambolic diversion from Article 48.12. It talks about racing behind a Safety Car, and is in stark contrast to Masi’s call.
“Any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car,” it reads.
“Once the last lapped car has passed the leader, the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.”