Toto Wolff took a swipe at former race director Michael Masi after his controversial actions at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On November 26 F1 will head to the Yas Marina Circuit for the final race of the season and it will be the last chance for teams to score some more points before another gruelling year comes to an end.
Mercedes head to Abu Dhabi with the chance to finish second in the Constructor standings and Lewis Hamilton has an opportunity to come third in the Driver standings behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The Silver Arrows now have an indifferent relationship with the Abu Dhabi GP given how Hamilton lost a chance to win a record eighth world championship in 2021.
Wolff has not forgotten how Masi’s contentious decision in the latter stages of the race two years ago influenced the outcome and allowed Verstappen to win his first title. Speaking about heading to Abu Dhabi after Sunday’s Las Vegas GP, Wolff could not resist making some comments aimed at Masi indirectly.
“I think we’re going there pretty much equal on points. With a proper race director, so that should be fine,” the Austrian told reporters. “Then let’s race. It’s all down to the last weekend. They are very quick and done a good job. I think we could have been on par today. But the result shows something different. To be honest, it’s good to have P2 as a positive to finish the season, but P2, P3 for me there is little… it doesn’t make me particularly cheerful anyway.”
The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix became a world title showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen, who were level on points heading into the final race of that season. Several laps from the end of the race, the 38-year-old was cruising to victory and had an 11-second lead over his Red Bull rival in second place.
But Nicholas Latifi suffered a late crash, and the safety car was deployed. Former race director Masi initially instructed that lapped cars could not overtake the safety vehicle until it left the track.
This means there would not have been time for Verstappen to get behind his rival before the allotted number of laps had been completed. However, Masi later controversially and incorrectly changed his mind, allowing the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves before ordering the safety car off the track.
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Therefore, the Dutchman could get on the British driver’s tail before overtaking him in a one-lap shootout, benefiting from driving on far newer tires and sealing his first world title. Hamilton, Wolff, and the entire Mercedes team were left furious and challenged the decision, which was deemed unsuccessful.
The British driver has not won a race since the 2021 Saudi Grand Prix and could only manage P7 at the Las Vegas Street Circuit. Teammate Russell finished eighth and Mercedes are now just four points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors standings going into Abu Dhabi. Reflecting on the race, Wolff appeared dejected.
“Sad to say yet another time we had pace but just no result,” he said. “George after the incident with Verstappen when he got a penalty, that was pretty much game over. Also, he had pace at the front, maybe not Max, but it is what it is. We have seen pace-ish today. I think we can hopefully recover and score solid podiums [in Abu Dhabi].”
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