Wednesday, June 29, 2022

‘Masi was turned’ | New Hamilton-Max doc delivers fresh claims

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Watch Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen on Sunday at 7pm on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports F1; Two-part documentary, which will also be available On Demand, Sky Showcase and Sky Documentaries, focuses on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s remarkable 2021 title battle

Last Updated: 03/03/22 9:28pm

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From the amazing battles to that finale and the controversial aftermath, get ready for the Sky Original ‘Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen’ airing on Saturday March 6

From the amazing battles to that finale and the controversial aftermath, get ready for the Sky Original ‘Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen’ airing on Saturday March 6

Toto Wolff has claimed in Sky’s must-watch new F1 documentary that Michael Masi was “turned” by Red Bull at the end of last season and that a “bromance” helped Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the title.

Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen is a new original Sky Sports documentary telling the definitive story of the astonishing championship fight between Hamilton and Verstappen, featuring exclusive interviews with those at the centre of the epic battles, drama and huge controversy that shaped 2021.

The two-part documentary first airs at 7pm this Sunday on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports F1, following the Manchester derby. It will then be available On Demand, while it will also be on Sky Showcase and Sky Documentaries from Monday, March 7.

In it, Mercedes boss Wolff cuts a frustrated and still deeply hurt figure still processing Hamilton’s contentious defeat to Verstappen, which he says was all because of the “wrong decisions” from race director Masi and that he was “turned” by Red Bull – pointing to both the Abu Dhabi GP finale and the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia as examples.

Masi, who has since been dropped by the FIA, made a ‘deal’ with Red Bull’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley over restart grid positions in Saudi Arabia, before appearing to change his mind over Safety Car rules amid Red Bull protestations in Abu Dhabi.

Wolff describes Masi and Wheatley’s relationship as a “bromance” and says: “Jonathan Wheatley has done his job.

“He’s turned Michael Masi the race director, not only in Abu Dhabi but before, and probably Max owes him a lot.”

Sky F1's Martin Brundle says teams should not be able to lobby a race director while critical decisions are being made, following the controversial Abu Dhabi season finale.

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Sky F1’s Martin Brundle says teams should not be able to lobby a race director while critical decisions are being made, following the controversial Abu Dhabi season finale.

Sky F1’s Martin Brundle says teams should not be able to lobby a race director while critical decisions are being made, following the controversial Abu Dhabi season finale.

On Masi, Wolff, who has since said he wishes to “move on” from 2021, adds: “I haven’t spoken to him and I don’t want to speak to him ever again.”

With Masi now having been replaced following an inquiry into Abu Dhabi – which has also brought an officiating restructure – Wolff admits the Australian was a “victim”.

“His decisions were wrong and I’m sure that he regrets them,” he states. “The FIA should have seen much earlier that there was a problem. There was a problem with the structure. There was a problem of personalities.”

Verstappen ultimately won the title after overtaking Hamilton on the final lap, aided by Masi’s decision which led to the Dutchman being on fresh soft tyres and Hamilton being on old hards. As Wolff says: “It’s like a football game that is 1-0 for one team and suddenly the referee says, ‘now it’s golden goal. 0-0, whoever scores the next goal wins’.

Experience the incredible conclusion of the Abu Dhabi GP from on-board Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton's cars and listen to the team radios, including Hamilton saying the race had been 'manipulated'.

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Experience the incredible conclusion of the Abu Dhabi GP from on-board Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s cars and listen to the team radios, including Hamilton saying the race had been ‘manipulated’.

Experience the incredible conclusion of the Abu Dhabi GP from on-board Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s cars and listen to the team radios, including Hamilton saying the race had been ‘manipulated’.

“‘And by the way, we have to play without boots.'”

Wolff concludes about Verstappen’s triumph: “I feel for Max.

“He merits the world championship… but there’s only talk about Abu Dhabi.”

Verstappen and Horner reflect on 2021 drama

Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen also includes exclusive interviews with Verstappen and his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who have consistently stated they deserved the championship thanks to a superb season.

Verstappen talks through his career and some of the intense battles with Hamilton through the year, as well as his racing style.

“Sometimes I have to take risks and try to dive up the inside or try to force a move,” explains Verstappen. “But, at the end of the day, that’s my style and that’s how I’ve won more races than I’ve lost.”

And the Red Bull pair also have their say on that Abu Dhabi controversy.

On Masi’s handling of the Safety Car and allowing there to be one more racing lap, Horner insists: “He didn’t break the rules.

“He perhaps applied the rules slightly differently in that circumstance but there was nothing he did that actually contravened the rules.”

Horner also says Masi needed more support, saying the race director was the subject of “bullying and online abuse” after the title finale.

Verstappen similarly sympathises with Masi, who has been replaced by two race directors for 2021.

“You can always argue was it right, was it wrong, what he did in Abu Dhabi,” says Verstappen.

“But I think what Michael stood for was always racing.

“I think it’s very harsh what they did to him and they really put him into the ground.”

Watch Duel: Hamilton vs Verstappen on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports F1 from 7pm on Sunday.





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