Michael Masi – race director of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – appears to show bias toward Red Bull in newly discovered radio messages that the FIA says they are aware of as part of their inquiry into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fiasco where Masi made several late-race rule errors which resulted in giving Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a distinct advantage over seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in the final lap of the race.
In the radio messages, Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley is advising Masi on how to deal with lapped cars that are on track preventing Verstappen from catching Hamilton, who was leading the race and seemingly on his way to victory as Verstappen, on new soft tires would be unable to pass lapped cars to catch Hamilton on his older, harder tires.
Wheatley tells Masi: “Those lapped cars; you don’t need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack. You only need to let them go, and then we’ve got a motor race on our hands.”
Masi replies: “Understood.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff objects to Masi’s actions after the race and Masi replies: “Toto, it’s called a motor race, OK?”
The radio transmissions were originally released by Formula 1 on December 16, 2021 – four days after the race – but Wheatley’s message appears to have missed detection by the general public [although the FiA says they had access to all radio messages from the race and were aware of these messages – yet did not mention their existence to this point in the inquiry].
Prior to Wheatley’s message, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had previously tried to influence Masi into breaking the rules: “Why aren’t we getting these lapped cars out of the way? You only need one racing lap.”
It is widely acknowledged within F1 that Masi failed to follow the rules correctly in Abu Dhabi, which had a direct effect on the outcome of the world championship that Hamilton was set to easily win.
The FIA is expected to release the findings of their inquiry into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fiasco and Hamilton is widely expected to base his 2022 racing future on the results of their inquiry.