Former F1 race director Michael Masi has reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement with the FIA to never discuss the controversial ending to last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The agreement has left fans highly suspicious, leaving question marks surrounding the race in which Masi oversaw as race director. It was his decisions that led to Max Verstappen claiming his first world title under a black cloud thanks to his calls.
Heading towards the final laps of the final race in last December, Masi made the decision to allow the five cars separating race leader Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves behind a safety car.
Michael Masi has signed an NDA so he cannot talk about the events at the Abu Dhabi race
It set up a final lap standoff between the two rivals which Verstappen, who had much fresher tyres, won to secure the championship. Leaving rivals Mercedes and Red Bull to confrontations and distracting radio messages to the Australian race director.
Masi’s ‘human error’ of allowing only those five cars the ability to unlap themselves, has now been changed in the rulebook for the current season.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph have now reported on the NDA as part of a new interview with Masi, who was sacked from his position at the start of the 2022 season.
Thanks to Masi’s decisions Max Verstappen claimed his first F1 World Championship in 2021
In the interview the 44-year-old admits it took time for him to get over the ‘Decider in the desert’ but that the incident has made him stronger.
‘It took me a while to process it all,’ Masi said.
‘But at the end of the day I thought it was best for me to come back home and be close to my support network.
‘I didn’t go and talk to a professional. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have. I should have gone and spoken to someone in a professional sense. But in saying that, I had some amazing people around me that could see it and were checking in daily. I was super fortunate to have that support network.’
Masi initially stayed at the FIA before quitting the governing body to move back to Australia
Masi cannot talk about the decision he made in Abu Dhabi due to Non-Disclosure Agreements with the FIA – but he can talk about the future.
‘The whole experience has made me a much stronger person,’ Masi said. ‘I have just had the longest break in my professional career and I have used the time to reconnect with family and friends. I have also done all that self-maintenance which you can neglect when you are in the grind.
‘I have a number of exciting options going forward. I am considering a number of different projects, both domestic and globally.
My intention is to base myself out of Australia and to use all the skills I have gained in what has been an incredible journey so far and one I am extremely proud and thankful for.’
It was Masi’s decision making at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season which saw him sacked after ‘human error’ set up a last lap shootout between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
The signing of the NDA only reinforces the suspicions fans have had over the incidents in Dubai that led to Verstappen’s World Title win.
The controversy came after Nicholas Latifi’s crash with just a few laps to go. It saw complaints made by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team about the merits of the Dutchman’s win.
They first accused Verstappen of briefly overtaking under safety car conditions, which was dismissed, but had a bigger complaint when Masi changed the safety car re-start procedure at the end of the race.
That decision handed the championship to Red Bull driver, and prevented Hamilton from a record eighth world crown.
Australian Masi later received death threats and a torrent of abuse across social media because of the calls he made in the Abu Dhabi finale.