Christian Horner has revealed why he reached out to former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi following the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi's decision-making in the 2021 title-decider proved controversial on the late Safety Car restart when he did not let all lapped cars un-lap themselves- only those between contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The Safety Car, which is usually brought in at the end of the lap after the lapped runners have gone through, was called in at the end of Lap 57, and not Lap 58 - the final one of the race - in order to get a green flag end - which Verstappen used to claim the title.
Masi was subsequently removed as race director by the FIA after an investigation into what happened and was subjected to abuse and threats online in the aftermath as he has now returned home to Australia.
It was for this reason that Horner felt it was important to reach out to Masi, who took on the job of race director following the untimely death of Charlie Whiting just before the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
Horner contacted Masi
Yes, [I did] on a couple of occasions," said Horner when asked on the F1: Beyond The Grid podcast if he had contacted Masi.
"I felt that it wasn't fair, the way he had been treated, because I think that he'd done the best that he could [in] following the principles [of finishing races under green flag, racing conditions.
"The only thing he screwed up on was not allowing the final two cars at the back of the field to unlap themselves.
"As we saw recently in Monza, nobody wants to see a race diluted and finished under a Safety Car.
"So he did everything to get that race going again, which would have been a horrendous finish to the season, to see it just diluted and peter out under under a Safety Car.
"I think the reaction after the race, there was a huge amount of abuse, sent to him; there was death threats to his family. No individual deserves to go through that."
Still issues with new race directors
Masi was replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich who combine race director duties, but Horner feels it is still taking time for the duo to get up to speed in F1.
"They're obviously new and very competent, they've got the experience," he said.
"But we still see issues no happening now and again [but the important thing is] that they're continuing to learn and evolve.
"It's a new chapter within the FIA, I think that Michael, in difficult circumstances, did the very best he could throughout the year.
"We have to remember he had very little support in that race control tower and was left very much on his own up there.
"When you follow the process of how they're looking at how cars run, it's back to pens and pieces of paper.
"He didn't have all the backup [systems] that the teams have, for example, with our operations rooms, and the software.
"It was still a very rudimentary process."
F1 Podcast: Does F1's grid penalty system need revising?
With confusion reigning for several hours over Max Verstappen's starting position for the Italian Grand Prix, does F1's grid penalty system need revising, and should there be a rule preventing races from ending under the Safety Car?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key issues from the Italian Grand Prix.