McLaren boss Zak Brown weighs in on Michael Masi incident with blunt FIA request
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McLaren boss Zak Brown has called on the FIA to review a number of regulations in Formula One to avoid a repeat of the situation at Abu Dhabi in December. The end of the race at Yas Marina has stirred up a hornet’s nest between teams and the FIA, specifically Mercedes, after the race director Michael Masi made a decision under the safety car that determined who won the Drivers’ Championship.
The FIA have since said they will investigate the incident that saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race, with Mercedes reportedly putting pressure on the governing body to sack Masi before the new season starts.
Mercedes deny the allegation, as the team awaits an outcome into the investigation, which could influence if Hamilton returns in February for the first of two pre-season tests.
“I think everyone was pretty confused,” Brown told RACER about Abu Dhabi. “Obviously there were winners and losers in it.
“It’s tough being a referee in any sport because half of the fans are going to agree with your call, half of them aren’t. It seemed to deviate from what’s happened in the past.
“I think if you look to Baku they red-flagged it right away. It didn’t really change the outcome for us but I think in the off-season we need to review a lot of our regulations.
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“If I pull back, I think there’s too much inconsistency in regulations and how they’re applied and when they’re applied, driver penalties.
“You look at Lando [Norris] who doesn’t touch [Sergio] Perez on the first lap in Austria, he tries him around the outside and he gets a five-second penalty and two penalty points.
“Then you have Max [Verstappen] and Lewis [Hamilton] who both go off the track [in Brazil] and ‘Let them race.’
“I think we all have those stories, and it’s difficult when it’s subjective, but I think we need to take a step back.”
He continued: “There were enough people disgruntled throughout the year that we need to look at the rules. And keep in mind that it’s the teams who make most of these rules.
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“So as you’ve heard me bang on about, I’d continue to like to see less influence from the teams, because we’re the ones who developed half of these rules.”
During the race, Red Bull boss Christian Horner and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff were on the radio to Masi, seemingly trying to sway the race director’s decisions.
F1 managing director Ross Brawn says the FIA have already taken action on that one, and that they would crack down on teams bombarding the race director.
“I’m not a fan, especially with it being broadcast — which Ross [Brawn] has said is no longer going to happen — because you now see some team bosses doing things because the camera’s on them,” he said.
“I think that’s changed people’s behaviour, so I’m a supporter of what Ross says, I think that should be behind the scenes.
“Also, you have multiple people at multiple times going to Masi; at our team, we have one person that talks to the FIA, that’s it. So you get this piling-on effect.
“You shouldn’t be able to bend the referee’s ear in the way we can, and then you have multiple people bending the referee’s ear, and then you add live on TV which adds another dimension to it, I don’t think that’s how a sport should be governed.”
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