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Button: It's wrong for teams to talk to Masi during a race

With continued discussion over the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Jenson Button has given his take on what needs to change in terms of Michael Masi's role as Race Director.

Jenson Button believes it is "wrong" that teams were able to speak to Race Director Michael Masi during Grands Prix in the 2021 season. There has been continued speculation about Masi's role following the controversial final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The FIA launched an investigation into the events, and the topic was discussed further at the latest F1 Commission meeting on 14 February . Following the meeting, a brief note in a wider press release confirming other developments stated that an "action plan" and "news of structural changes" will be presented by new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem in due course – following the latest input from teams. Meanwhile, the controversy was rekindled amongst fans last week, with radio messages between Red Bull's Jonathan Wheatley and Masi in Race Control going viral on social media. The FIA have since clarified the messages were already known to them , and have formed part of their investigation.

Button suggests changes to communication

In light of these messages, Button has argued that this type of discussion between the teams and Race Control is normal, but questioned whether it needs to change. "I think when you just hear that on its own, you think, 'That sounds bad, it sounds like they're manipulating the steward or the [Race] Director,'" Button told Sky Sports . "But it's very, very different than that. Every team speaks to Michael Masi and puts their point across, they always do, and if you listen earlier in the race, [Mercedes boss] Toto Wolff was also saying, 'We don't want a Safety Car here, we want a Virtual Safety Car', and things like that. "So they're always going to try and get the point across. That's the way it's always been in the sport. Maybe that needs to be changed. "Maybe they shouldn't have their opinions voiced to Michael Masi, and maybe that's a way forward, so Michael Masi can make the decision on his own."

"So much emotion" during a race

Button thinks that, with the emotions at play during a Grand Prix, communication between the teams and Masi whilst the race is running should not be allowed. "I think after the race, the teams can go and talk to Michael Masi," the 2009 World Champion explained. "But during the race, I think it's wrong, because there's so much emotion coming from the teams, but also from Michael Masi. It's difficult, because [there is] so much adrenaline, [and there are] a lot of people watching what he does. "So I think it's better the stewards can discuss it between themselves, and come up with a decision, and obviously have the rulebook in front of them as well."

Rules "need to be clear" for everyone

Whilst Masi has been the focus of discussions following Abu Dhabi, Button thinks that the decision-making process should involve the stewards as well. "It's really tricky when it's one individual, but there has to be a man at the top, right?" Button added. "So it always lands at his feet. But no, I think it should be a decision between all of the stewards. "Obviously the rules are the rules, and whether he stuck to the rules, and I heard that also he can manipulate the rules a little bit when it comes to the Safety Car, he is in charge of the Safety Car... "But when we're told one thing, and then we hear another, especially [for] the public and the fans of the sport, whether you're a supporter of Lewis [Hamilton] or Max [Verstappen], it needs to be clear, so we all understand it, we're on the same page, and we just watch great racing."

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