Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff couldn’t resist revisiting the contentious events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi title decider, taking another dig at former race director Michael Masi.
Masi, who oversaw the championship showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, became a focal point of controversy due to an incorrect application of the Safety Car rules. This error allowed Verstappen to overtake Hamilton on the final lap, securing his maiden championship while denying Hamilton a record eighth world title.
Following an FIA inquiry that attributed the incident to “human error,” Masi was removed from his position, and Niels Wittich took over as the current race director for the 2022 season.
Wolff, known for his candid remarks, referenced the controversy during discussions about Mercedes’ battle with Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. “I think we’re going there pretty much equal on points, and we have a proper race director, so that should be fine,” remarked Wolff.
Despite acknowledging Ferrari’s strong performance, Wolff hinted at lingering disappointment from the Las Vegas race, saying, “I think we could have been on par [in Las Vegas]. But the result shows something different. To be honest, it’s good to have P2 as a positive to finish the season, but P2, P3 for me there is little… it doesn’t make me particularly cheerful anyway.”
Wolff’s recent comments are part of a series of digs aimed at Masi. Earlier this year, he expressed his disillusionment with the sport, stating, “That is a moment when you fall out of love with the sport. The principle of fairness was breached.”
As the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix approaches, Wolff revealed that his motivation is fueled by “personal anger” to secure Hamilton a record-breaking eighth world title. “I have a personal anger and drive to make him win the eighth title because he should have had it,” Wolff disclosed.
As Formula 1 enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the season finale, the backdrop of past controversies and Wolff’s determination adds an extra layer of intrigue to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.