WOKING, England — McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo said F1 race director Michael Masi needs support in his role to avoid a repeat of the farcical finish to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi’s future in the job is currently in question after he botched the finish of the title decider between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton last year. The race was settled by a one-lap sprint, which saw Verstappen pass Hamilton to win the title, when the rules were incorrectly applied.
An FIA investigation into how Masi’s decision making affected the outcome is still ongoing.
On Thursday, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel defended Masi and said he should not lose his job on the basis of one mistake. Ricciardo said Masi was in a lose-lose situation in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s kind of a bit like a referee — you can’t win,” Ricciardo told ESPN ahead of McLaren’s 2022 car launch. “You’re always going to have someone against you, it’s a little bit like that.
“I’ve never sat through race control during a race so I don’t know how much is going on. But I guess in my head, trying to understand it all, some support is probably a bit of a simple solution to try and help out.”
Ricciardo said he never realised how much work Masi takes on between races until bumping into his fellow Australian last year.
“He was telling me his schedule, where he’s been and where he’s going, and the amount of traveling he’s doing to venues before we get there. Back and forth, checking this and that. His schedule is nuts. That in itself, you’ve then got fatigue and everything else…. Making big decisions is already quite tricky and complex. So probably some assistance is step one for that.”
Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris said he hopes to see Masi continue in the role into 2022 and beyond.
“He’s been great for a lot of things,” Norris told ESPN. “He got thrown in three years ago and of course, from my point of view, he’s done a better job every season.
“It’s probably the first time things have not gone to plan. We always expect a lot as drivers as we always want things to be perfect so when they’re not, we’re gonna complain and do on.
“He’s a nice guy, he does what he can. It would be a shame to see him go but I’m sure he’s gonna stick around.”
On the outcome of Abu Dhabi, Norris added: “Both deserved to win. Both did an extremely good job. I think Max was a very worthy winner. On the day, Lewis did initially the better job, but then how things turned out…”