Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes FIA race director Michael Masi should be credited for the decisions he made at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi initially gave the message that no lapped cars would be allowed to overtake during a late safety car period, before changing that call on the penultimate lap to allow the five lapped cars that sat between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to get out of the way. Immediately bringing in the safety car allowed one racing lap that saw Verstappen win the championship, and Marko (pictured above celebrating with Verstappen after the race) says both Red Bull and Masi deserve praise for their handling of the situation.
“Our team acted sensationally,” Marko said on the Sport und Talk TV show. “Immediately switched to the soft tires and then, yes, Hamilton had no chance. He (Max) asked me afterwards what I was thinking. ‘You will win it, it was clear.’
“One must also credit Michael Masi, who wanted to finish the race under racing conditions. With IndyCar or NASCAR, for example, there is a rule that they even add a lap so that the race can be finished under racing conditions. There were five cars in between and he just sent them away, so that you could drive this last lap. It’s like the referee, he has the right and if he decides like that, then that’s valid.”
Marko was speaking on the show alongside Verstappen, who says his and Hamilton’s relationship needs to be viewed without focusing solely on the final race, considering the pair had fought hard on numerous occasions throughout the whole season.
“In the end, it was OK,” Verstappen said. “Of course we had our moments and he might have been angry but also we had nice duels.
“That hurt him, yes, in the last lap, what happened there. But we do have respect.”