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Red Bull chief blames Lewis Hamilton for Michael Masi’s departure


Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has said that he believes Lewis Hamilton’s behaviour was partly the reason behind the removal of Michael Masi from the role of Formula 1 race director.

Masi was stripped of race directing duties after the FIA’s investigation into the controversial ending at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when Masi broke from precedent and allowed lapped cars between Hamilton and title rival Max Verstappen to unlap themselves.

That allowed Verstappen to pass Hamilton on the final lap and take both race and Drivers’ Championship victory from the seven-time world champion.

Hamilton, having been left “disillusioned” by the ending to the 2021 season, then fell silent, neither posting on social media nor speaking publicly about the events at the Yas Marina Circuit while reportedly mulling his F1 future.

It was announced last month that, as part of a wider FIA restructure, a two-pronged team of Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich will rotate in the role previously occupied by Masi, assisted by veteran Herbie Blash.

Red Bull have noted their support of Masi, with Christian Horner defending the Australian and Verstappen claiming that the 44-year-old had been “thrown under the bus”.

Marko, the long-time advisor to the team and head of their driver development program, has now stated that he partially blames Hamilton, and echoed Red Bull’s world champion by suggesting that Masi had been “sacrificed”.

“By his silence, [Hamilton] only wanted to show his dissatisfaction with the situation and the decisions,” Marko told RTL. “Part of that behaviour subsequently also led to Masi being removed from his role.

“I don’t think it’s right. You have to look at his performances over the years. If Masi had everything they are going to enter now at his disposal, it would have been easier for him to decide, a video referee and an advisor by his side.”

“Michael is now being sacrificed for that.”

Freitas and Wittich will alternate throughout the 2022 season, with Masi to be reassigned by the FIA.

The 73-year-old Blash returns to F1 six years after stepping down having been a long-time deputy to Masi’s predecessor Charlie Whiting, who died in 2019.

Team bosses will no longer have access to the race director during the race after both Horner and Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff were accused of attempting to influence Masi during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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