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Toto Wolff’s Michael Masi comments ‘completely unacceptable’, Martin Brundle claims

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-19

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Martin Brundle believes that Toto Wolff is aware that his lobbying of Formula 1 race director Michael Masi was “unacceptable” during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With fans able to hear discussions with the race director for the first time, the controversial conclusion to the 2021 season saw both Mercedes principal Wolff and his Red Bull counterparts attempting to influence Masi’s decisions.

Masi has since been criticised for allowing cars between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves, setting up the chance for Verstappen to snatch both race and Drivers’ Championship victory in the final lap.

Brundle, who raced in F1 in the 1980s and 1990s and is now a prominent pundit for Sky Sports , believes that the sport should no longer allow teams to be able to have such extensive access to the race director, something that Wolff himself has proposed.

“One hundred percent [lobbying should be prevented],” Brundle said on Sky Sports Abu Dhabi: One Month On, a retrospective of the final race of the season.

“In the first Safety Car incident when [Antonio] Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo broke down some way from a service road, we had Toto on the radio to Masi saying “Hey Michael, no Safety Car”, trying to influence a safety decision.

“[It’s] completely unacceptable and Toto knows that. We can’t have that.”

Brundle believes that the system used under Masi’s predecessor Charlie Whiting is preferable, even if it means less in-race discussion between teams and the race director.

“What used to happen in the Herbie [Blash, former deputy race director] and Charlie days is they would get on the radio to Charlie and Herbie would go “He [Whiting] is busy at the moment. He’ll get back to you”.

“Of course, he didn’t because Charlie was busy sorting out the mess that was on track and working to understand when the race could be restarted.”

Wolff admitted that he had “overstepped” in his mid-race rant, and has subsequently opposed those calling for Masi to lose his job.

The 50-year-old has, however, called for greater consistency in race direction and decision-making.

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