Michael Masi explains controversial Max Verstappen offer as he makes wish for Abu Dhabi

Formula 1: Hamilton and Verstappen crash at 190mph

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FIA race director Michael Masi has explained the controversial offer made to Max Verstappen and Red Bull during last weekend’s action-packed Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. With multiple incidents to pick through, Masi found himself at the centre of the drama as Verstappen and title rival Lewis Hamilton fought tooth and nail for victory. 

Eventually, it was the Mercedes man who came out on top, but it was far from a simple assignment for Hamilton. 

During the maiden F1 race on Jeddah’s speedy street circuit, a number of crashes saw a total of three standing starts, and all the chaos that comes with them. 

Furthermore, once Verstappen and Hamilton broke clear of the pack, intense wheel-to-wheel racing saw the pair collide on two separate occasions, landing the Dutchman with two-time penalties. 

One incident which did not result in contact, but certainly provoked debate, was during the first restart when Verstappen shoved his way past Hamilton at Turn 2. 

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Due to clashes behind the leaders, the race was promptly red-flagged for a second time, which gave Masi time to mull his approach to Verstappen’s contentious overtake. 

What left onlookers confused was an apparent negotiation between Masi and the Red Bull team over what the appropriate punishment would be. 

“This happens during a race — giving people the ability to give a position up,” explained Masi to The Daily Mail.

“The difference was it was under a red flag and more focus was on it.

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“It is the most pragmatic way of dealing with it, saying, ‘You can do this or it will be referred to the stewards and it will likely result in a time penalty’.

“It was just that the discussion took a bit longer because the race was suspended.”

Verstappen lined up for the second restart in third, but with an audacious move he flew past both Hamilton and Esteban Ocon to take the lead of the race. 

Hamilton eventually closed the gap though, and after yet more controversy, Verstappen was ordered to let the seven-time world champion through in the closing stages. 

A blockbuster race is now scheduled for Abu Dhabi, with the two title protagonists level on points going into the final contest. 

After being given his fair share of work to do this season, Masi is clear in his wish for the title decider. 

“I hope it is not decided in the stewards’ room, but by the two guys out on the track,” he added.

“It is up to them and nobody else.”

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