December 2, 2022

Christian Horner gives verdict on Michael Masi exit and says Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to title as Red Bull outwitted Mercedes in final race

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has sympathy for Michael Masi, who lost his position as F1 race director.

With Hamilton and Mercedes left furious, the sport’s governing body, the FIA, launched an inquiry into the last-day drama.

He said: “It’s a difficult one. It’s the FIA’s business. I think it is harsh, I think he was in a very difficult position last year.

“We felt a lot of the decisions went against us last year. 

“When you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resource, compared to what the teams have, it’s such a massive difference.

“It’s good to hear they are bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and one of the most experienced guys in Herbie Blash (former F1 deputy race director).

“I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael and that’s not right. That’s my personal feeling.”

Horner also believes that, on balance, Verstappen was the best driver over the whole 2021 season and in that final race Red Bull got their tactics spot on.

There were two occasions where Hamilton asked to come in to change his tyres, but Mercedes left him out, and that is where the title was won and lost, according to Horner.

He added: “It was an intense period. You have to look at the season over the 22 races. We had a lot of decisions go against us earlier in the year and penalties that weren’t awarded and so on.

“We got a little bit lucky at the end and sometimes that happens in sport, it’s not over until the whistle goes or the flag falls. 

“Tactically, we were sharp at the end. When the crash came five laps from the end we reacted immediately.

“We got Max in, pitted him for a new set of tyres, Mercedes left Lewis out on what was 44-lap tyres at the end of their life.

“Max had to make that pass on the last lap, which he did. There has been some hiding around the controversy.

“The bottom line was that tactically we got it right. Max delivered the move and became the world champion.”

When asked if the FIA should review the final race of the season, Horner said: “It’s done. He didn’t actually do anything wrong in accordance with the rules.

“It’s a bit of a smokescreen as when you look back at the race, Mercedes had two opportunities to pit.

“There was a virtual safety car and then there was a safety car. The driver was asking to pit on both occasions and they left him out.

“That’s what exposed him at the end of the race. Tactically we got it right and it’s those small margins.”