Fresh fury over 'unacceptable' F1 debacle

4 months ago 95
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Leading Formula 1 commentator Martin Brundle has acknowledged audio of radio communications between Australian race director Michael Masi and Red Bull at the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is "really uncomfortable."

The audio, which was first released in December, has gone viral in the last 24 hours, with much attention on a message from Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley, who is heard advising Masi on how he should restart the race after the safety car was deployed.

"Those lapped cars, you don't need to let them go right the way around and catch up with the back of the pack," Wheatley told Masi.

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"You only need to let them go, and then we've got a motor race on our hands."

Masi replied: "Understood."

Masi restarted the race in contravention of Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations, which state that the safety car should be withdrawn on the lap after lapped cars are released. Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to secure the world title, had Masi followed the correct procedure Hamilton would have been champion.

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Masi made the point at the time that it was a motor race, and finishing behind the safety car wasn't a satisfactory ending to what's been described as the best season ever.

"Of course it's really uncomfortable, and a lot of people are unhappy: Hamilton fans, Mercedes fans," Brundle told Sky Sports F1.

"And you don't even have to be a Lewis Hamilton fan to think that forever he should be an eight-time world champion, because, for me, the really crucial regulation that wasn't carried out was that the safety car should have come in at the end of the following lap.

"But we also know that unwritten rules and meetings, which shouldn't supersede anything, were: let's try not to have a race finish behind the safety car.

Max Verstappen on the way to victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Getty)

"Hugely unacceptable. I met so many fans that were new to Formula 1 last year particularly, and fans in general, that were hugely upset by what happened."

The FIA, which is conducting an inquiry into the race to prevent a repeat in future, said it was aware of the messages.

It has already flagged that team bosses, such as Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, will not be able to communicate directly with Masi during the race.

"We cannot - and we know it's going to change - have teams getting at the referee while he's trying to make critical decisions with cars on the track and marshals and breakdown vehicles," Brundle said.

Christian Horner and Max Verstappen celebrate the Dutch driver claiming the world championship. (Getty)

"The car was on fire at certain times. He's trying to manage that and he's getting lobbied left, right and centre.

"You can imagine that on the football ground or rugby ground is completely unacceptable. And that will change.

"It's not pretty for Formula 1 at all, but I don't think this audio today changes the really uncomfortable narrative of what happened."

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