It’s normal: FIA race director defends deal making with Red Bull and Mercedes
The FIA Race Director Michael Masi has come under scrutiny for openly offering deals on positions to Red Bull and Mercedes during a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian GP.
To make matters worse the conversation between Masi and the two teams over the radio, had many followers of F1 less than impressed and leading the director having to explain himself.
“It’s very much a normal discussion that happens regularly,” Masi explained after the race.
“I wouldn’t call it a deal, as from a Race Director’s perspective I have no authority to instruct the teams to do anything in that situation. I can give them an offer, [I have] the ability to do that but the choice is theirs.
“The stewards are obviously empowered to give penalties, but I can give them my perspective. That’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up.”
Position offers to Red Bull and Mercedes
The radio messages between Masi and Red Bull’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley and team principal Christian Horner were the source of the controversy.
Masi asked if they wanted to start second on the grid at the restart of the Grand Prix, before offering them third instead, when it was clear they would be behind Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Ocon.
In response to the offer, Red Bull decided to accept the position move to second before having to alter.
“Obviously if they [Red Bull] choose not to accept that then I will refer it to the stewards,” Masi explained the position offering process to Mercedes.
Afterwards Masi returned to his conversation with Red Bull who accept the offer
“Yeah we’ll accept that,” The Red Bull team responded.
“We understand the order will be Ocon, Hamilton then Verstappen.”
The brief interchange between Masi and the two teams led to the FIA Race Director explaining the process after the race. Fans of F1 were able to gain an insight to what happens after red flags in a race.
“So it probably seemed a bit elongated compared to normal, however it is very much a normal discussion that takes place,” Masi said after the race.
“When I saw it happen at Turn 2, I immediately suggested to the stewards that I am going to give the opportunity [to Red Bull] to give that place back.
“The red flag obviously ensued very quickly thereafter and that was absolutely the priority before we got going again.
“Being as we were under the suspension, it was the ability to effectively correct that before we went racing again.”