Unheard audio footage between FIA race director Michael Masi and Red Bull Sporting Director Jonathan Wheatley shocks the F1 enthusiasts. It seems that, during the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Masi blindly followed the indications from Red Bull.
The winner-takes-it-all season finale brought a controversial final lap. Lewis Hamilton was heading for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ World Championship title. But the deployment of the Safety Car following Nicholas Latifi’s crash with just five laps to go changed everything.
Now new audio footage recorded while the Safety Car was on the track in Abu Dhabi reveals a radio conversation between Red Bull’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley and FIA race director Michael Masi. The two discussed the restart procedure after the Safety Car would exist the race track.
At that moment, Lewis Hamilton was right behind the Aston Martin DBX Safety Car with five lapped drivers behind him. “Obviously those lapped cars, you don’t need to let them go… right away round and catch up with the back of the podium”, Wheatley says.
“Understood”, Michael Masi replies.
“You need to let them go”, Wheatley insists. “And then we got a motor race in our hands.”
“Understood, just give me a second.”
Michael Masi seemingly did what Red Bull told him to
Immediately after this radio conversation, Red Bull’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase told Max Verstappen that all the cars in front of him were going to pass Lewis Hamilton. “Everybody behind you will stay in position. We all know what happened after that”, he added.
Almost simultaneously, Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington (“Bono”), who seemed unaware of the radio communication between Red Bull and Masi, told the British driver that no cars would be allowed to unlap themselves. An audio recording from the race in Abu Dhabi showed a disillusioned Lewis Hamilton speaking of manipulation.
It seems that FIA has a lot on its mind right before pre-season testing kicks off in Barcelona. The committee will have to further investigate this new audio footage.
“Toto, it’s called a motor race”, Masi replied to Toto Wolff when the Mercedes Team Principal asked him what he had just done. These were the exact words Masi had heard from Jonathan Wheatley minutes before.
This is shocking. New emerging footage of @F1 Abu Dhabi GP containing previously unheard radio. Masi essentially executed the instructions of Jonathan Wheatley (Red Bull) without any second thought over its legality or fairness. This should be sickening listening to any fan. pic.twitter.com/XkOWmjGhH0
— Jordan ¹⁰³ (@F1_Jordan) February 8, 2022