Red Bull team boss Christian Horner feels there was too much pressure put on Michael Masi's removal as Race Director for the 2022 F1 season, describing the end result as "harsh".
F1's governing body, the FIA, announced last week that Masi has been replaced by two new Race Directors - Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas - who will share responsibilities on alternating weekends across the upcoming campaign.
Masi lost his role in the wake of the well-documented 2021 season finale, at which his late-race decision-making - specifically around the use of the Safety Car - had a direct impact on the outcome of the championship.
Horner thinks Masi's removal was a "harsh" call
Moving forward, the FIA will make several changes to assist the new Race Directors, including a football-style Virtual Race Control Room.
One of Masi's close friends recently revealed that he has endured a "tortuous" few months since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Horner sympathised with the Australian, pointing to the relative lack of resources during his time in the role.
"It's a difficult one. It's the FIA's business. I think it is harsh; I think he was in a very difficult position last year," Horner told talkSPORT.
"When you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resource, compared to what the teams have, it's such a massive difference.
"It's good to hear they are bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and one of the most experienced guys in Herbie Blash.
"I just think there was so much pressure put on the removal of Michael and that's not right. That's my personal feeling."
Horner believes Red Bull outsmarted Mercedes
Horner also argued that there has been "some hiding around the controversy", making clear his belief that Red Bull performed better than Mercedes over the course of the 2021 season, and in the final race.
He continued: "It was an intense period. You have to look at the season over the 22 races. We had a lot of decisions go against us earlier in the year and penalties that weren't awarded and so on.
"We got a little bit lucky at the end and sometimes that happens in sport; it's not over until the whistle goes or the flag falls.
"Tactically, we were sharp at the end. When [Nicholas Latifi's] crash came five laps from the end we reacted immediately. We got Max in, pitted him for a new set of tyres, [while] Mercedes left Lewis out on what [were] 44-lap tyres at the end of their life.
"Max had to make that pass on the last lap, which he did. There has been some hiding around the controversy. The bottom line was that tactically we got it right. Max delivered the move and became the World Champion."
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